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Physical vs Digital Experience: Listening to Consumer Demand

Physical vs Digital Experience: Listening to Consumer Demand

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Paul Lewis, senior director of marketing at VoucherCodes discussing why retailers need to take a joint approach to the physical vs digital shopping experience.

It’s difficult to think of any industry nowadays where online and mobile aren’t options for purchase. With the recent news that 60% of travel bookings now take place on mobile devices, we’re seeing yet another industry with high-value purchase orders being completed on a mobile device – highlighting the importance of having an optimised mobile presence.

Research from VoucherCodes, part of RetailMeNot, recently found almost half (49%) of major UK retailers now consider it best practice to jointly invest in both the physical and digital shopping experience. The research, highlighted in VoucherCodes’ report, found just 8% of UK retailers are prioritising investment in the physical store alone, demonstrating a significant step away from the traditional siloed approach. So, whilst there is a considerable way to go before a joint approach is universally accepted as best practice across the board, retailers are showing positive signs of steering in the right direction.

Investing in the right technology

One way retailers are marrying their digital and physical investment is through payment technology – optimising both online and in-store checkouts to support a mobile payment method, streamlining their processes to enable faster payments with fewer friction points for the shopper. According to the VoucherCodes report, a huge 56% of UK retailers have invested in payment technology over the last 12 months, undoubtedly a big driver for this investment is the millennial generation of shoppers. Dubbed the ‘largest consumer generation in the world’, millennials have come of age in a web-enabled world where customised and highly personal online experiences have become the norm, and are driving digital payment to fit with their digital lifestyles. In fact, one in seven millennials (69%) already use their mobile devices to manage their money and more than nine in ten (91%) predict they will be using their mobile devices for financial purposes in three years’ time.

Another key area for online-offline integration in retail is through the growing prevalence of digital receipts. In the last year or so, many retailers have begun offering customers digital, rather than physical, receipts as a means to integrate on and offline. With bank statements and bills all digital nowadays, it makes complete sense to do the same with a shopping bill, and it’s somewhat surprising we’re still not in a place where this is the norm across the board. In fact, two years ago 41% of shoppers said they ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ receive a digital receipt, but 45% would like the option of a digital receipt. In the last year, and according to VoucherCodes research with WBR, we’ve seen retailers put a much bigger emphasis on this with 47% saying they’ve invested in digital receipts in the last 12 months – clearly, they have seen the demand from consumers and have started working to meet it.

Ultimately, it comes down to customer demand, with research showing almost three-quarters (73%) of UK retailers believe the main motivator for these investments to be customer demand.

Fear of change

But what about those retailers who are scared of these new investments, AKA change? The issue with new investments, like technology, is that it takes more than just a financial investment to make it work, but a time investment too. Staff capacity, having the knowledge or figurehead to direct it and organisational structure are just a few of the challenges businesses can face.

Whether its new technology or offering the product or service on a different channel, communication is key. Looking at omnichannel in particular, it is easy for businesses to not communicate enough between the on and offline teams and it often takes time and getting used to change this behaviour.

No matter what the change, it’s key that those involved really understand the benefits to ensure they buy into it. Ultimately, what the consumer wants, they will inevitably get. For any business who is afraid of change, they need to consider what they are more afraid of – change or having their customers go elsewhere because that is what it will come down to.

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Paul Lewis

Paul Lewis

    Paul oversees marketing at VoucherCodes, ensuring the business continues to grow to meet the omnichannel needs of both its merchant partners and UK consumers.

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