Technology Causing High Street and Online Shopping Experiences to Merge

With signs that economic growth is at last boosting consumer confidence, a new report has reinforced the affection British shoppers hold for the high street – while highlighting how the physical and virtual shopping worlds are merging, particularly for consumers aged between 16 and 24 years old.

The 2,000-strong survey – commissioned by leading digital marketing company SmartFocus – reveals that while the majority of consumers prefer to both shop and spend their money in bricks and mortar retail stores, most are also increasing the amount of time they spend shopping online.

Today’s SmartFocus survey also reveals that shopping preference is almost always linked to age. Almost a third of younger shoppers (61%) state that their online and physical purchasing habits have become more closely aligned in the last few years, with nearly three quarters using their smartphone to browse, identify and buy goods more than they did in the past.

Meanwhile only 15% of 55 years olds use their smartphones as part of their shopping routine. Younger shoppers are more confident about exchanging their data for a more personalised shopping experience (61%) and over two thirds (66%) are more likely to buy something if they were sent an email or a text that included a discount code for that particular item.

Across the board people admitted to browsing in store then buying online (sometimes known as ‘showrooming’), with over 60% of those in the US saying this was something they did compared to just under half of the UK respondents. When asked why this was, more than 70% of both US and UK shoppers cited price as a reason.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • British shoppers still prefer the high street – but physical and virtual shopping experiences are moving closer together.
  • Millennials (shoppers aged between 16 and 24) are 3 times more likely to be happy exchanging personal information than those in the 55+ bracket.
  • Older shoppers remain nervous about data privacy issues – but the offer of a bargain will change many of their minds.
  • Bargain hunting shoppers are more likely to buy a good if they receive discount offers via email or text… nearly two thirds are likely to cash in a digital offer.
  • ‘Mind the digital gap’ – the generational gap is widening, as ‘Silver Surfers’ (those aged 54 and above) ignore the benefits of technology led shopping while Generation Y and younger shoppers reveal they relish the opportunities of online shopping.
  • Younger shoppers are also the most likely to spot something they would like to buy in a store and then buy it online.
  • Of those who admit to browsing in store then buying online, over three quarters (76%) state they do this for cheaper prices, where just under 40% cite convenience as a factor.
  • With support for and use of technologies like smartphones plummeting with age… Silver Surfers are consistently the least digitally enthusiastic and active group.
  • Shoppers in Northern Ireland are behind the digital curve, with more shoppers strongly wedded to ‘bricks and mortar shopping’. They enjoy shopping and spending money in stores more than any other region; they’re least likely to use smartphones to identify and buy goods; they’re the least happy to receive discount offers via email and/or text; and the least worried about data privacy issues when shopping.

Rob Mullen, SmartFocus CEO and retail marketing expert, observes: “Today’s survey demonstrates how canny and better informed shoppers have become. Using mobile phones and tablets to get the best deals around is becoming commonplace – gone are the days when retailers would simply put an item up for sale and rely on customers to come in and buy them.

“In today’s digital world, it’s about reaching out to shoppers via their key piece of technology – their mobile phone – and offering them relevant deals. The survey reinforces that fact that shoppers know the value of their personal data – and are willing to trade some of that, in return for getting access to discounted offers. Besides the sale in question, shoppers will also benefit via marketers being able to analyse their data – and discover previously unrecognised patterns of behaviour and more accurately predict future purchases they’re likely to make.”

The release of the survey comes on the day SmartFocus announces the acquisition of two key ‘big data’ technology marketing start-ups – Beacon technology specialist TagPoints and social media analyst Content Savvy.

How technology is being used in marketing:

Many high profile companies are using SmartFocus’ expanding range of digital marketing tools. A major high street fashion retailer is using its Beacon technology which will offer consumers visiting stores dedicated discounts and ‘secret’ offers via an app. And in a significant move, the system will link consumer in-store behaviour to email by contacting them via email afterwards.

One large brand using SmartFocus is the global technology giant HP. “SmartFocus is HP’s marketing engine for the Internet of Everything,” said Dennison Degregor, Worldwide CRM Executive at HP. “The reality is that many businesses cannot cope with the amount of data they have access to in today’s connected world. Therefore it is critical that they have access to tools that not only enable them to capture data, but allow them to analyse that data and act on it instantly.

“The addition of TagPoints and Content Savvy is adding new perspectives to understanding customer behaviour. Coupled with SmartFocus’ existing toolset, they have the potential to redefine digital marketing. It will give HP and our clients unrivalled insight and enable us to communicate with our customers in a relevant, timely and targeted way, irrespective of where they are or what device they are using.”

Additional information:

SmartFocus: SmartFocus is the leader and innovator in contextualised and personalised messages. We have the technology to help you truly know your customer and engage them with the right message, at the perfect moment, wherever they are – in store and online across all of their preferred channels. SmartFocus is the Internet of Everything solution for brands. It includes beacon technology that knows when your customer visits a physical store; real-time predictive recommendations generated at the precise moment they open your email or visit your site; and powerful insights that use smart analysis of Big Data to effortlessly generate a truly personal experience. Every year, we execute more than five million marketing campaigns, manage more than five billion customer records, and deliver more than 55 billion personalised interactions. Global brands such as French Connection, Speedo and Mercedes-Benz rely on SmartFocus to deliver business-critical, joined-up marketing campaigns that make a difference to their customers and to the growth of their business. http://www.smartfocus.com

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