‘Real World’ Retailing Ready for Renaissance

September 7, 2011

Despite predictions of gloom for “real world” retailing by many industry experts, brick-and-mortar shopping is actually set for a renaissance of interest and participation, according to consumer trends firm trendwatching.com. Four key drivers are identified for the retail renaissance: Off-On, Retail Safari, Instant Status Fix, and ‘Citysumers.’

A brief summary of each driver follows.

1.Off-On: The online world is now completely accessible even when “offline” (that is, when consumers are away from any kind of online device). For retailers, this means a world where not only have consumer expectations been set by a decade of shopping online, but one where consumers can access all the things they love about e-commerce – convenience, the ability to hear other consumers’ experiences, total price transparency, and virtually endless choice – in the “real world.”

To support this assertion, trendwatching.com cites statistics such as a Google/Ipsos finding that 51% of consumers research products online and buy them in-store, and a Scanlife finding that mobile barcode scanning increased 1,600% globally during 2010.

Therefore, trendwatching.com says smart retailers are mimicking if not actually bringing the online experience to their in-store shoppers. This includes everything from in-store price comparisons and customer reviews to suggested pairings.

2.Retail Safari: Shopping moments are now ubiquitous both offline and online, meaning that during recent years, the most successful retailers have looked hard at what would make them unique and desirable. trendwatching.com says that the ones who have been relentlessly reinventing themselves understood that while “Off-On” brings extra transparency and information into stores, shopping isn’t purely functional. For a large number of consumers around the world, going shopping is a leisure activity: a way of relaxing, a source of entertainment or a chance to meet up with friends and share experiences.

Indeed, when consumers go shopping in person, trendwatching.com advises they increasingly expect to feel or experience something that they can’t get online: a compelling spectacle, exclusive products, the ability to test and feel things, or learning how to use products. Hence, the rise in highly experiential stores and outlets, turning the retail arena around the world into what is termed a “Retail Safari.”

3.Instant Status Fix: Whether it’s the sensory impact of walking around a store, flaunting the bags, being served by shop personnel or just purchasing items in an environment with other people looking on, a shopping experience in the real world delivers instant status gratification in a way that online (still) can’t. trendwatching.com analysis indicates the search for social status underpins much consumer behavior, and thus, the act of real world shopping will remain a popular way for consumers to receive their status fix.

4.Citysumers: Urban dwellers have more disposable income, more leisure time and virtually limitless opportunities to spend it, and as a result, trendwatching.com says retail therapy will remain popular for the sophisticated urban consumers it calls Citysumers. While this is obviously true in mature markets (that are already urban), trendwatching.com says the real opportunity is in emerging markets, where urban migration unleashes tens of thousands of new, eager consumers into the retail arena every day.

trendwatching.com cites the following statistics to support its finding that Citysumers are becoming a major consumer force:

  • Chinese retail sales in July 2011 rose 17.2% to approximately $1.4 trillion CNY from a year earlier. Urban retail sales increased 17.3% year-on-year to CNY 1.25 trillion, while rural retail sales climbed 16.4% to only CNY 191.9 billion (Source: National Bureau of Statistics, August 2011).
  • Between 2001 and 2010, retail sales in developing markets went from 35% of the global total to 42%, with per capita growth of nearly 100%, from USD 2,009 to USD 3,847 (Source: AT Kearney, June 2011).
  • Asian retail sales are forecast to grow from USD 5.4 trillion in 2010 to USD 8.5 trillion in 2014. Retail sales in North America and Western Europe at that time are forecast to be USD 4.5 trillion and USD 2.7 trillion respectively (Source: PWC & Economist Intelligence Unit, January 2011).

the e-tailing group: 1 in 3 Online Shoppers Performs Mobile Research

Approximately one in three online US consumers have performed one of several mobile shopping research activities in the past three months, according to a study from the e-tailing group and PowerReviews. Data from “The 2011 Social Shopping Study” indicates that a leading 33% of online consumers have both checked for sales and specials and looked up store information such as hours, location and maps via mobile device in the past three months.

Other leading mobile shopping research activities include checking for product ratings and reviews (32%), looking for competitive pricing at Amazon.com (31%), and browsing an online store for a product of interest (31%). Another 29% of online consumers have looked at competitive prices for products at retailers other than Amazon.

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