The optimal shopping experience: how consumers want to store in 2022

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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Wouldn't it be great if you could look into the minds of your customers to find out whether they are satisfied with your store and what they actually want in terms of user experience? That would definitely make things a lot easier. Although this is not possible in this form, numerous studies on trends and developments in e-commerce always provide up-to-date insights that can be of great benefit to you.

One Study by the payment platform Adyen in collaboration with KPMG has now produced exciting results on what consumers want from the shopping experience in online stores. For you, this results in clear recommendations for the future.

Competition and synergies between retail and online

In general, retailers expect strong growth in the retail sector - regardless of whether these are digital or traditional sales channels. However, as almost all retailers are also planning additional investments, competitive pressure could increase significantly.

Almost half of all respondents continue to see the store as an essential touchpoint when shopping. Customers are also becoming more demanding with regard to their desired shopping experience. Around 60 percent want multi- or cross-channel shopping options. It is becoming apparent that customers not only welcome a fusion of retail and online shopping, but increasingly expect it from retailers.

Customers today are less skeptical about modern technologies

The future of retail is definitely becoming much more digital. Around 40 percent of respondents state that technologies to improve the shopping experience can increase their willingness to buy - whether online or in-store. This is clearly underpinned by the "Retail Report 2022":

  • Flexible payment options across all touchpoints are important to around 60 % of respondents.
  • Compared to other European countries, German consumers still often use cash to make payments. However, almost half now prefer card payments.
  • This can also be seen as a driving force for e-commerce: The less skepticism there is about digital payment and shopping options, the more beneficial this is for online retail.
  • The authors of the study assume that the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant influence on this rethink.

Many retailers are not (yet) aligned with the wishes of consumers

It is striking that consumers' expectations regarding the shopping experience and the actual situation at retailers drift far apart in many aspects.

A few examples of the discrepancies between customer expectations and the conditions in stores:

  • Many consumers would like to be able to buy products online and return them in-store, with 61 % even stating that they would be more loyal in this case. However, only 23 % of the companies surveyed offer this.
  • Around half of respondents also noted that their loyalty would increase if out-of-stock items could be sent directly to their home. This option is also offered by a small number of retailers.
  • Conversely, around 46 % of the study participants would like to be able to inspect products on their online wish list again in a retail store. Very few retailers make this possible either.

At first, this sounds like a surprisingly large gap between consumers' wishes and the reality of shopping. However, it should be noted that customer wishes have only developed particularly strongly in this direction in recent years. It is therefore not surprising that many retailers initially remained rather cautious about venturing into cross-channel concepts.

Recommendations for retailers

But now is undoubtedly the time to step up investment in the shopping experience, as customers are becoming more demanding. Retailers see it that way too. Around 94 % plan to make massive technological advancements over the course of 2022.

  • Unified commerce instead of (just) omnichannel: It is no longer enough for retailers to be represented both in a store and online. Instead, you should link databases and promote cross-channel shopping opportunities. Online and offline are less and less seen as separate worlds. You can therefore help your customers enormously if you enable them to store according to this understanding.
  • Anticipate customer wishes and behavior: Most companies still know little about their customers' wishes and are unable to anticipate their behavior. The most effective lever for this problem is data: Data! As far as legally possible, you should collect and analyze customer data. Here are some examples Social Commerce, E-mail marketing or loyalty programs are also helpful.
  • Enable Endless Aisle: This refers to an "endless shelf". This means that customers can also buy unavailable products in the store. Ideally, as a retailer, you should at least have a sample available, as around 41 % of respondents stated that they like to touch and try out products before deciding to make a purchase. Depending on where customers had their first touchpoint with you, a brick-and-mortar store can also fulfill the function of a showroom.

Do all these options still seem a long way off for your store? Don't panic. It's not unusual for customers' wishes to always go a little beyond what the majority of retailers can currently offer.

However, you can take the Adyen study as a reminder and a pointer for the future. Online and offline worlds are merging more and more. If you manage to align the shopping experience in your store with this, you are already in the best possible position.

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