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Global study focuses on disruptive forces in retail

Survey of more than 19,000 consumers shows how mobile, social are changing retail

Results from a new PwC study show some of the main areas impacting retailers and how consumers interact with them.

The "Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption" study is PwC's annual global consumer survey. Released this month, it breaks down current retail "disruptors" into four areas: the evolution of the store, mobile technology, social networks and demographic shifts.

This past August and September, 19,068 respondents completed the online survey, which covers 19 territories on six continents. Canada and the U.S. respondents took part, and did people in Germany, the U.K., Italy, Turkey, Russia, China and Australia.

John Maxwell, global retail and consumer leader at PwC, noted in the report that the retail environment is more complex now than ever before. " want their shopping needs met in a way that minimizes uncertainty and inflexibility and maximizes efficiency, convenience, and pleasure," he wrote.

Here are some interesting findings from the report:

The evolution of the store
When asked why they buy products online instead of in stores, the results showed:

  • 56% said lower prices/better deals than in-store

  • 40% said no need to travel to a physical store

  • 32% said easier to compare and research products/offers than in-store

  • 16% said customer reviews of products available online

When asked why the buy products in-store instead of online, the results showed:

  • 60% said I am able to see, touch and try merchandise

  • 53% said to get the product immediately

  • 25% said I'm more comfortable buying perishable products in-store

  • 22% said I'm able to return items easily

  • 20% said quicker delivery than if purchased online

  • 13% said to support local retailers

  • 13% said because of the atmosphere

  • 12% said to get the lowest price

Mobile and related technologies
When asked which of the following they have done using their mobile/smartphone/tablet/PC, the results showed:

  • 49% researched the products

  • 49% compared prices with competitors

  • 31% located store with mobile phone

  • 25% used a coupon

  • 16% accessed loyalty/reward programs

  • 13% scanned QR codes

  • 12% paid at the cashier

  • 12% received an offer based on proximity to store

  • 4% tweeted the retailer/brand about the product/offer

Additionally, 25% of Canadian respondents say they "strongly disagree" that their mobile phone will become their main tool for which to purchase; only 6% said they "strongly agree."

Social networks
When asked which of the following they have done using social media

  • 34% said they followed some of their favourite brands or retailers

  • 28% said they discovered brands they didn't know or brands in which they developed a particular interest

  • 27% said they researched a brand, including reading others' feedback

  • 23% gave comments about their experience with a product or brand

  • 15% liked and shared products

Demographic shifts
The study asked 18-to-24-year-olds and "everyone else" about which of the following they've done using social media:

  • Followed some of their favourite brands or retailers: 49% 18-24 versus 31% everyone else

  • Discovered brands they did not know or brands in which they developed a particular interest: 38% versus 26%

  • Researched a brand, including reading others' feedback: 30% versus 26%

  • Provided comments about their experience with a product or brand: 26% versus 22%

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