Consumer habits have changed drastically over the last 20 years and so much so that the way in which people used to shop is now almost unrecognizable. This is, largely, due to the rise of technology which has had a huge impact on shopping habits and convenience. So, how have things changed in recent times?
The most obvious change has been the introduction of online shopping. People can now shop for any kind of product from the comfort of their own home at any time they please and get the item delivered straight to their door. In addition to being more convenient, this also means that consumers are not limited to stores in their local area and can even shop from retailers around the globe. This marks a huge change as it enables people to browse to find the best deals and get items of all shapes and sizes delivered to their door with just a few clicks.
Not only this, but technology has also changed the way that people do shop when they visit the high street. This is due to the introduction of self-service checkouts where consumers can scan items and make payments without assistance. This can speed up the process while also reducing the amount of staff needed for retailers. This has proven to be a popular option with 57% of shoppers preferring a shopping experience with no human interaction, according to a recent study from Whistl. There is a sharp contrast in generational approach, however, with 70% of over 45s preferring to speak to someone face-to-face as opposed to just 25% of 18 to 24-year-olds.
Contactless & finance
Another huge change over the last few years has been the introduction of contactless payments where consumers can simply tap their bank card to a terminal to complete a transaction. This has lead to a near cashless society where it is becoming rare for people to use physical money for any kind of transaction no matter how big or small.
Businesses have had to cater for this by ensuring that contactless payment is available as otherwise they could be missing out. Following on from this, many people now make large purchases on finance where they then make subsequent payments each month until the total payment has been made which has allowed more people to make bigger purchases.
Importance of physical stores
These are the main changes over the last 20 years and retailers have had to evolve with the times in order to keep up. While there are many physical stores that are struggling and being forced to close, there is still a need for brick and mortar stores as over 75% of consumers stated that they enjoy coming into the shop to look at and touch the products. Additionally, more technology will be integrated into stores such as augmented reality and AI to improve the customer experience in the coming years.
Times are now very different with consumers very quickly embracing technology to enhance their shopping experience and retailers have had to alter their models drastically in order to survive. This looks set to continue in the near future and it will be interesting to see how the next 20 years unfold.