LONDON; April 13, 2016 – Retailers in the United Kingdom are more likely than those elsewhere in Europe to be meeting consumers’ demand for increased convenience when shopping with mobile devices, according to new research from Accenture.
Launched at the Millennial 20/20 Summit, the Accenture Adaptive Retail report found that UK retailers are quickly adapting to the increase in consumer demand for improved mobile capabilities, with the vast majority (92 percent) of retailers having mobile-optimised websites. In addition, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of UK retailers offer smartphone apps with purchase capabilities, significantly higher than the global average of 58 percent and lower only than the United States, where more than four in five retailers (83 percent) offer such apps.
Smart shopping with smart phones
The research found that the number of UK consumers shopping “on the go”—i.e., with mobile devices—grew in the past year, from 25 percent of consumers in 2014 to 30 percent in 2015. The research suggests that retailers’ improved mobile capabilities are paying off, as the number of UK consumers who said they find it easy to make purchases with their mobile devices increased nearly 20 percent over the past year, from 42 percent to 50 percent. Yet the number of shoppers who want more retail services via mobile devices, particularly real-time in-store promotions, grew only slightly over the past year, from 35 percent to 38 percent. This represents an opportunity for the UK retailers, as none of those surveyed said they currently have the ability to send real-time promotions.
“While retailers are providing mobile technology that is improving consumers’ shopping experience, it’s also apparent that certain areas still need addressing,” said Matt Prebble, managing director in Accenture’s UK Retail practice. “For instance, capabilities such as real-time in-store promotions that might once have been viewed as ‘nice-to-haves’ are increasingly being sought after by shoppers, who expect to be provided with a seamless digital experience. While UK retailers are in many respects ahead of some of their global competitors, they should by no means become complacent.”
Meeting expectations in-store and online
The Accenture research found that the number of UK shoppers who believe that having the ability to check product availability online prior to going to the store would improve their experience increased by one-third in the past year, from 33 percent to 44 percent. This poses a challenge for the retailers, as only 40 percent of UK retailers currently offer this capability. However, more than four in five UK retailers (84 percent) allow customers to buy out-of-stock items via a mobile device while shopping in store.
However, only two thirds (64 percent) of retailers have knowledgeable staff who can give detailed product information. However, when it comes to delivery, UK retailers are consistently offering a wide range of services with a significant 88 percent (compared to a global average of 56 percent) saying they have next-day delivery capabilities. A further 80 percent can schedule delivery on a specific day (compared to a global average of just 49 percent). A high 88 percent allow consumers to return online orders to the physical store (compared to a global average of 57 percent) and 76 percent have click & collect capabilities (compared to a global average of just 39 percent).
“This year’s survey confirms that UK retailers are adapting to the evolving needs of their customers,” Prebble said. “When you look specifically at the UK’s delivery services compared with the global counterparts, for example, the UK is much more advanced in a number of areas. However, as our research has shown, growing numbers of customers, and millennials in particular, are also looking for additional capabilities that many UK retailers simply aren’t offering, such as the ability to check product availability online before heading to a store or receiving real-time promotions.
“Perhaps more worryingly, while many retailers are taking advantage of digital capabilities, some seem to be forgetting key fundamentals such as providing excellent personal interaction with customers,” Prebble said. “Without these core foundations in place, retailers will quickly find themselves struggling as consumers turn to competitors that are better equipped to meet their needs.”
The Millennial Mix
The research revealed a generational gap between millennials and baby boomers when it comes to shopping across the channels. Surprisingly, millennials are more likely than baby boomers to visit retail stores (35 percent versus 22 percent). However, millennials are more than twice as likely as baby boomers to use mobile devices to find the items they want to purchase both in-store and online (44 percent versus 18 percent, respectively).
UK millennials want services that improve the online shopping experience (cited by 57 percent of millennials), provide targeted promotions (57 percent) and speed-up check out (42 percent). Millennial shoppers are also the generation most comfortable with providing typical retail information to retailers, such as details of shopping preferences (cited by 48 percent of millennial respondents), purchase history (45 percent) and loyalty membership (40 percent), but fewer than one in seven (14 percent) said they are comfortable providing details of social and financial information.
Meanwhile, more than one third (37 percent) of UK millennials, versus 33 percent globally, think the in-store experience requires improvement. Almost one-third (30 percent) of this group in the UK also think that the online experience needs improvement. Interestingly, millennials also have a higher expectation of paying different prices for the same item through different channels while more baby boomers expect the same price (76 percent vs. 95 percent respectively).
The Accenture Adaptive Retail survey also found that several companies have a significant impact on UK consumers’ lifestyles. Google (50 percent) and Amazon/Amazon Prime (40 percent) are the top two companies with the largest impact on shoppers, followed by Facebook and Apple. For UK millennials, this changes with Google having the most impact (64 percent), following by other social media outlets (including Snapchat; Instagram; reddit) at 48 percent, and then Facebook (44 percent) followed by Apple and Amazon/Amazon Prime at 42 percent each.
Globally Accenture conducted two pieces of research: the Accenture Adaptive Retail report, which surveyed more than 10,000 consumers across 13 countries; and a separate benchmarking study that evaluated a global sample of 162 retailers across multiple industries in 10 countries.
As part of this Accenture conducted an online survey of 768 UK consumers who have shopped both online and in stores during the last three months of 2015. Sourced from panel data, survey respondents were vetted by ESOMAR, which adheres to strict international guidelines for market research. The sample of shoppers came from seven equally weighted sectors: apparel; consumer electronics; department stores; discount, mass, and hypermarket stores; grocery stores; drug stores; and home improvement outlets. The survey’s respondents represent a range of gender, generation, household income level and place of residence. The survey screened all shoppers for regular Internet and smartphone use and has a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.
To understand retailer capabilities, in November 2015 Accenture benchmarked a UK sample of 25 companies representing the apparel, consumer electronics, department store, discount/mass/hypermarket, grocery, drug/HBA and home improvement sectors. The research assessed retailers in terms of nearly 200 dimensions that evaluated their performance across six key metrics: consistent experience; connected shopping; flexible fulfilment; personalised interaction; integrated merchandising; and a better, faster, memorable experience.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialised skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.