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Profiling global retail shopper differences

Retail shoppers have different expectations around the globe.

While the global adoption of digital technology and social media has homogenized the way people shop, to some extent, big differences still exist around the globe1. Driven by everything from local traditions and cultural norms to access to cost-effective communications infrastructure, major contrasts in shopper habits still exist across markets and countries.

Shoppers in China are really shopping on the go

Globally, 40% of shoppers said they used their smartphones more often this past year to find what they wanted. In China, 73% of shoppers said as such (contrasted by 24% of Swedish shoppers). While 27% of shoppers worldwide expect to purchase more goods this coming year via their smartphones, in China 59% agreed, while only 14% of French shoppers said the same. On average, 48% of global shoppers find it easy to purchase using their mobile devices. In Sweden, only 30% find it easy, yet in China, 77% find it easy, which could explain the country’s high mobile shopping scores.

And how are retailers adapting to this shift in shopping behavior? On average, just under 60% of retailers worldwide offer smartphone apps with purchasing capabilities. The range among individual markets runs from 92% in the UK to 32% in Brazil. Likewise, 83% of global retailers have mobile-optimized websites that provide the ability to make purchases, with Japan (91%) and Brazil (47%) marking the high/low boundaries.

Shoppers in Brazil are demanding more services via their mobile phone while shopping in store

The global survey results reveal that 47% of shoppers want to receive real-time promotions while shopping in store. In fact, Brazilians want them the most (of all the countries we surveyed), at 56%. However, with only 7% of retailers globally offering this capability, it looks like shoppers in China are receiving them the most (at 27%), though they’re not receiving them from the retailers we benchmarked (as none of them send them).

47% of shoppers in Brazil want the ability to credit coupons and discounts automatically to their purchases via their mobile phones (global average is 42%). And 39% of Brazilians would like to pay by phone whereas only 10% in Japan do (the global average is 25%). Yet, none of the retailers in Brazil we benchmarked have mobile payment capabilities.

Retailer capabilities that were nice to have are becoming must haves

Consumers keep raising the bar regarding the shopping experience they desire. Globally, 49% say they want the ability to check product availability online before going to the store, which is up from 27% last year. At 63%, Sweden has the most shoppers who want this ability among the countries studied, up dramatically from the 36% who said as such in last year’s survey. A growing proportion (27%) of consumers worldwide (high: 38% in Japan; low: 20% in China / 21% in Italy) also want to easily order out-of-stock items in stores, an increase from 17% last year.

Unfortunately, retailers in many markets inhibit these aspirations. For instance, no Brazilian retailers have the ability to check product availability in specific stores and just 1 in 19 have in-store Wi-Fi systems to enable out-of-stock ordering. Likewise, only 4% of Chinese retailers let consumers check store-specific product availability (global average is 28%) or enable out-of-stock ordering via mobile phone (global average is 41%).

For more details on country-specific results, view the Consumer Research findings.

1Global sample of consumers: Accenture surveyed over 10,000 consumers in 13 countries around the globe (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the US) who have shopped online and in stores in the last three months who indicated regular internet and smartphone use. This survey has a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 1%. Survey conducted in November 2015.

Global retailer benchmark: Accenture benchmarked over 160 retailers representing the apparel, consumer electronics, department store, discount/mass/hypermarket, grocery, drug/health & beauty, and home improvement sectors in 10 countries: Brazil, China, Japan, UK, US, Canada, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany.