Revealed: Key reasons why high streets are struggling

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Consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with a high street shopping experience that offers little of the convenience of online counterparts, with four in ten (40 per cent) claiming shopping in-store is a chore and a third (32 per cent) saying they would rather be at home washing the dishes.

 The study of 6,000 consumers and 500 retail executives from nine countries (United States, China, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden) highlights a growing divide between retailers and consumers on the importance of physical stores: while 81 per cent of retail executives see the store as important, less than half of consumers (45 per cent) agree. Shoppers are frustrated by in-person retail experiences that have not only failed to keep pace with developments in online shopping but are also disconnected from online stores. Dissatisfaction is highest in Sweden and Spain (54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively say bricks and mortar shopping is a chore) and lowest in China and the US (29 per cent and 31 per cent respectively).

‘Offline’ stores frustrate shoppers

More than half (54 per cent) of the retail executives surveyed admit that they have been slow to digitise their physical stores and consumers’ in-store frustrations are rooted in not having access to features now commonplace on online stores:

·        71 per cent find it difficult to compare products

·        66 per cent are annoyed by long queues at checkout

·        65 per cent complain that the promotions they receive in store aren’t relevant

·        65 per cent simply can’t find the product that they want

Consumers are exploring new purchase paths

Low in-store satisfaction is one of two significant challenges faced by traditional retailers uncovered by the survey. Consumers are also exploring new retail models that reduce their reliance on traditional retailers. More than half are open to buying directly from manufacturers in the future (57 per cent) or buying from technology players such as Google, Apple and Facebook (59 per cent) if they partnered with local retailers for last-mile delivery. Overall, 71 percent of consumers would consider bypassing traditional retailers, but this attitude is most prevalent in China, where well over three quarters (87 per cent) of respondents would consider alternatives.

Digital: A challenge for physical retailers

Retailers recognise the importance of in-store digitisation – it’s a top management priority for the majority of retail executives (78 per cent) – however they are limited by both existing technology investments and the capabilities of in-store staff. 40 percent of retail executives say that they are still implementing technology foundations, such as in-store WiFi, while a similar number claim that store managers are not promoting in-store digital initiatives. More significantly, 43 percent say they are unable to measure the return on investment from in-store digital initiatives despite high usage. Overall, only 18 percent of retail executives were found to have implemented digital initiatives at scale and be generating significant benefits.

Mike Petevinos, Global Head of Consumer Products & Retail at Capgemini Consulting, said: “Shoppers are increasingly disconnected with the in-store experience, and it’s easy to see why. Most physical shops remain stubbornly ‘offline’, unable to offer the speed, flexibility and sheer ease of use that consumers take for granted on websites. Rumours of the death of the high street store may be exaggerated, but they are becoming uncomfortably close to the mark. Many retailers we spoke to admit they aren’t digitising stores quickly enough because making a business case for investment is challenging. This report makes it clear the real question retailers have to be asking themselves isn’t whether they can afford to transform the in-store experience, but can they afford not to?” 

 

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