Small businesses and retailers are in prime position to benefit from increasing their online presence, with a report into the digital influence on retailers finding almost two thirds of people aregoing online before going shopping in a bricks-and-mortar store.
Deloitte’s inaugural report on the subject, Navigating the new digital divide – digital influence in Australian retail, found 65% of Australian customers are using a digital device before shopping.
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Released on Friday, the report also shows that with digital influencing 40% of in-store retail visits, Australia is the third highest country surveyed when it came to the percentage of digitally-influenced retail sales.
Deloitte defines ‘digital influence’ as the percentage of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail visits affected by shoppers’ use of devices before or during the shopping trip.
The report also found 31% of customers are using a digital device while shopping.
David White, Deloitte partner and retail industry leader, said in a statement the findings are a “wake-up call” for the retail sector, which is “at risk of underestimating local consumer appetite for digital engagement”.
“Global brands have educated Australian consumers to expect internationally competitive pricing, an endless aisle and greater shopping convenience,” White said.
“Digital will soon be the deciding success factor in retail.”
Paul Greenberg, executive chairman of the National Online Retail Association, told SmartCompany the report’s findings don’t surprise him.
“The concept of ROBO – research online, buy offline, and vice versa – continues to grow,” Greenberg says.
Greenberg says there are two major takeaways from the report.
“Established retailers need to have a very strong online strategy, and in-store experience needs to be well optimised,” he says.
“There is no room for uninformed associates on the retail floor, they have to be on their game.”
Greenberg says the idea there are increasingly “non-linear” paths to purchase for consumers is also a concept validated by the report.
“Industry retailers struggled recently thinking it’s either an offline strategy or online strategy,” he says.
“But it’s not a straight line. It’s a combination of them both.”
Greenberg says while he is positive about the direction retailers were heading, it was a good reminder to stay on top of things. He echoed White’s use of the words “wake-up call”.
“It’s a wake-up call we’ve got to really be on our game, make sure our digital mobile connection also top of mind and strong. You need them both, it’s not an either or,” he says.
Greenberg’s top three tips for online retailers are:
1. Ensure a multi-touch strategy, customers shop by brand
2. Optimise digital and physical environments
3. Keep customer centricity – customer at centre and customer control. Customers are well and truly in control.