The mobile experience will lead the next retail revolution, but the American shopper and retailer have a way to go before they catch up with international markets. And when it comes to closing the sale, it’s not just an attractive price that wins the American shopper.
Those are some of the key conclusions from Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ annual online shopper survey, “Total Retail: The Race for Relevance,” which surveyed 23,000 global online consumers to show what drove shopping decisions, both online and off, in the U.S and elsewhere.
Unsurprisingly, many of the findings focused on the mobile shopping journey, and despite increasing focus on this segment, PwC found that only 22 percent of American shoppers make a monthly mobile purchase, and only 26 percent of U.S. shoppers said their mobile phones will become their main purchasing tool going forward.
Compare that to China, where 66 percent of consumers said they shop using their mobile device at least once a month. And, observed PwC U.S. retail and consumer leader Steve Barr, mobile shopping in China spans a diverse age set, rather than just the millennial segment that leads the charge on mobile shopping in America.
According to the survey, 40 percent of millennials buy products online monthly, while 30 percent shop online weekly. What’s more, 80 percent of millennials (compared to 55 percent for those older than 35) use mobile devices in a physical store — for coupons, research, price-checks or to pay.
And both in-store and out, consumers were focused on much more than price, with convenience being a key motivating factor. When asked why they shop online, 58 percent of Americans said “convenience,” while only 32 percent said price. (This has changed since as recently as 2014, where 52 percent of online shoppers went for lower prices rather than the 47 percent who went for convenience.)
Speaking of convenience, millennials are willing to pay as much as four times more for next-day delivery; U.S. shoppers overall ranked appealing delivery options as important, including crowd-sourced last-mile delivery, free shipping and returns, click-and-collect and even delivery within hours of ordering.
Although “buy” buttons on social media are arguably highly convenient, they don’t seem to have taken off, yet. Only 10 percent of American consumers who were surveyed said they shop on social media platforms; again, China was ahead on this with 27 percent saying they purchase directly from a social media channel. One possible reason for the U.S. lag in mobile shopping overall, Barr said, was that many emerging countries have skipped wide computer adoption in favor of mobile phones.
Despite the focus on the digital experience, the physical experience still matters, according to the study, as long as retailers make the trip convenient and worth it. Forty percent of shoppers preferred sales associates with deep product knowledge; 33 percent chose self-service and 32 percent like the ability to check other store or online stock quickly. And, shopping centers are evolving to create more reasons for a shopper to visit, from entertainment and food to innovative in-store technology.
Ultimately, the research concluded, consumers want brands that are trustworthy, authentic, reliable and visionary.