For many years now, retailers around Australia and the world have been preparing themselves for the great online shopping Armageddon. The end of physical stores by the likes of Amazon, the Iconic, and various other online retailers is coming. The ease of ordering items online and having them delivered to your door is seeming to dominate the industry, and it may look to some that in-store shopping is going to crumble.
Blis and Sapio released an analytical report on the consumer engagement in Australia. They surveyed over 800 shoppers to find out what motivates them to shop, and what they want out of their shopping experience. The main takeaway from these reports is that fusing online and offline shopping into a more memorable shopping experience is what consumers want. Consumers don’t want physical stores to disappear, and they also want the ease of use of digital shopping. They want the best of both worlds, and retailers need to take this on board in the future. This will allow stores to adapt to the rapidly-shifting shopping experience, and take their brands into the future.
The ease of buying clothes or appliances from your smart phone appears to be the part of future for retail. However, it seems that physical stores will still be surviving with foot traffic for the foreseeable future.
With the shift of various department stores and wholesale retailers into the online domain, purchasing anything that you might need has never been easier. With the touch of a button, you can have clothes delivered same-day, or even order a complete entertainment system, and have someone else set it up for you. It is no doubt that the digital age has a massive impact on the consumer. Even retail giants such as IKEA have launched AR (augmented reality) services on your phone to see what their furniture will look like in your home (for more information, see links below), allowing you to style your living room with ease.
Despite this, retail stores around Australia have still found the in-person experience remains as an important facet of their sales. Consumers still want that experience of trying on clothes, getting advice on electronics, and even the act of a physical transaction. Consumers still want that physical retail experience.
What we know is that retailers need to be innovative and adapt. The demand for new ways to shop in-store is on the rise. Amazon has implemented the first of their brick and mortar bookstores. Even grocery stores now have the technology to track which items you pick up and charge you without ever interacting with a store clerk. While these stores have yet to hit the Australian retail scene, it is not a far stretch to assume that many Australian brands may take this approach in the future.
Australian retailers must now focus on both online and physical storefronts, as the market continues to grow. Not only does this involve innovating the way customers interact with their brand, but also requires them to expand their warehouses and delivery services, as the demand for both formats grow every day.
So, the people have spoken. What will happen in the next decade is unknown, but it is safe to say for now that physical stores in Australia are here to stay.