The retail sector is officially adopting the hybrid business model. The global supply chain crisis that limited product choice has once again fundamentally changed the way consumers shop. Inflation and currency issues have also affected the prices of commodities globally. Adding to these pressures, consumer expectations have risen. Now, consumers are looking for retailers to accommodate their personal shopping preferences, both online and in-store.
According to SOTI’s new global research report The Tech Effect: Strengthening the Omnichannel to Meet Consumer Demands, retailers that don’t leverage technology to enhance online and in-store shopping experiences run the risk of losing their consumers to competitors faster than in previous years.
2022 Created Consumer Shopping Challenges
The 2023 Retail Report shows that economic and supply chain issues made it difficult for the United States consumers to shop, as 85% experienced availability, pricing, and shipping issues. This has prompted consumers to keep an eye out for solutions to these factors before making an online or in-store purchase:
|Delivery charges are more expensive||62%|
|Items are more expensive||55%|
|Items are no longer available||53%|
|Delivery times are slower than usual||36%|
The Best of Both Worlds
With consumers identifying a number of challenges, it is retailers that have thrived by offering the most seamless shopping experience, online and in-store. The report found that 47% of U.S. consumers still prefer to shop online. The research confirms that e-commerce strength is growing, with more and more customers turning to hybrid shopping models. This provides an opportunity for retailers to merge strategies from both worlds and meet consumer needs.
In hybrid shopping model, consumers want their retailers to provide them with better and more personalized experiences. In fact, 51% of U.S. respondents have agreed that they prefer to shop with retailers that provide experiences based on their personal preferences.
“It wasn’t long ago that retailers could put their different channels in silos and report strong bottom lines,” said Shash Anand, SVP of Product Strategy at SOTI. “Now, they need to deliver a seamless and personalized shopping journey that can only be achieved through technology. With a connected and digitized backend infrastructure, as well as mobile tracking technology, retailers can instantly obtain real-time information, remain transparent with consumers and give online shoppers the choice of how they want items fulfilled.”
Transaction Deal Breakers
Both the buying and fulfillment processes are significant to consumers. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers expect to know where their order is always within the delivery process, while six out of ten continue to shop with brands that can deliver goods the fastest. In fact, more than a third of American consumers agree that knowing a retailer’s delivery partner determines whether they will fulfill an order.
When it comes to ordering the items, the top choices for U.S. consumers are in-home delivery by any method (66%) and in-store delivery or a designated pick-up point (28%). Furthermore, 68% said that delivery time and speed are still most important to them, followed by returns, with 55% saying they are more likely to buy from an online retailer that allows returning a product.
“With delivery charges increasing and delivery options broadening, retailers need to carefully vet their delivery partners to ensure they can fulfill heightened consumer expectations. In updating both hardware and software across their entire supply chain management processes, physical warehouses and stores, retailers and their partners can better inform consumers of product availability and delivery timelines while ensuring they are getting the most bang for their buck,” added Anand.
The Grass Can Be Greener on the Other Side
As consumers become more conscious of their spending and the brands they buy from, carbon footprint is becoming the new deciding factor. The report echoes this sentiment, with more than half of US consumers (55%) agreeing that they prefer a more sustainable method of returning goods. Additionally, 41% of respondents agreed that they would prefer to shop with a retailer that offers carbon offsets and more recyclable packaging.
“Looking ahead, retailers will need to prioritize how they communicate with logistics partners. Optimizing and increasing the deployment of mobile device fleets across the entire supply chain for sustainable, smooth delivery and returns while creating a flexible hybrid business model and communication across supply chains will become vital in mastering the consumer-retail experience. Retailers who understand consumer pain points will lock in consumer loyalty at a time when markets are volatile and goods are more expensive,” concluded Anand.