Things are not all doom and gloom for bricks-and-mortar stores, according to researchers from Monash University’s Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS).
The new research, presented at ACRS’s recent seminar, ‘Retail Thought Leadership’, looked at the role of the physical store within the context of multichannel retailing, and explored what customers are looking for in the store of the future.
Selma Mehmedovic of the ACRS said the research found the key drivers of getting shoppers into store were still price, product range – and products always being in stock.
‘Our survey found 75 percent of shoppers rated these factors as extremely important in their decision of where to shop,’ said Ms Mehmedovic.
‘The interesting thing about this result is these factors are commonly seen as the main advantages of online retailing over bricks-and-mortar stores.’
While price, product range and stock availability remain the priority, consumers showed they were interested in embracing new channels such as mobile, social media and other technologies, if retailers were to offer them in-store.
The research found the most useful features consumers were looking for in the ‘stores of the future’ included mobile devices such as maps and coupons and in-store kiosks where they could access information, make purchases and even undertake virtual try-ons.
According to the research, interactive maps to assist with locating products and the ability to order online and pick-up in store were by far the most useful store experiences aspects.
Gen Ys particularly liked the ability to ‘click and collect’ with 40 percent finding it a highly appealing option.
‘The research found 91 percent of respondents rated interactive maps to assist with locating products as important to the shopping experience,’ said Ms Mehmedovic.
‘Interestingly this figure was just as high for older generations as Gen Y.’
The ability to order online and pick-up in store also rated highly with 84 per cent of respondents, while interactive kiosks providing inspiration and ideas were met favourably by 77 per cent of respondents.
“For the brick-and-mortar store to survive it is important retailers understand fully the type of in-store experiences consumers require,” Ms Mehmedovic said.
‘They have to offer experiences consumers cannot get online.’