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Trade has changed tremendously in recent years. Due to the advancing digitization, the demands of customers have changed immensely. This clearly shows that times are changing – and so are consumers. This is also reflected in the fact that 87 percent of consumers now expect digital services in most stationary stores. The associated changes in purchasing behavior are particularly noticeable in retail. Young consumers in particular no longer want to differentiate between online and offline – they naturally use all available channels to shop.

Buying behavior: online vs. offline

In order to be able to make a prognosis about future purchasing behavior, the status quo must first be considered. How popular are brick-and-mortar and online retailers currently with consumers? And what are the reasons for the respective preferences?

According to the study “Shopping Worlds 2017” by Teambank, almost 100 percent of consumers under the age of 50 prefer online shopping. In the case of consumers between the ages of 50 and retirement age, more than 80 percent use online shops. In addition to easy accessibility, online trading scores with a large selection of goods, detailed product information and a variety of payment options. Again, the customers here are mostly annoyed by excessively high shipping costs and unavailable goods.

In the shop, many consumers find the sometimes long waiting times at the checkout or goods issue to be a disadvantage. The retail sector, on the other hand, is clearly ahead when it comes to customer advice, product presentation and the clarity of the sales rooms. In terms of payment processes, traditional retail is also surprisingly clear. Customers feel that they are in better hands with the actual purchase process in terms of data security, the payment itself, information about financing options and price transparency in shops.

Buying behavior: online vs. offline

When paying, the majority of consumers trust brick-and-mortar retail, because some consumers have concerns about data protection when shopping online. Plus point for the online shop: the multitude of payment options.

And which goods do customers prefer online and offline?

Germans are passionate about strolling – and not just online. The study by COMARCH examines the future of retailing and customer expectations and makes it clear that the steady trade especially when buying furniture and decoration (75%), cosmetics represents (74%) as well as tools and home improvement materials (70%) preferred channel. For the product groups household effects (41%), TV and hi-fi (41%) and clothing (36%), German consumers also like to use various online shops.

Germans like to shop household items and TV / hi-fi equipment online. The stationary trade can rather score with the product groups furniture, decoration and cosmetics. (Source: COMARCH )

In addition, shopping behavior also depends on the age of the consumer. The younger a customer is, the more open they are to online shopping and other digital offers. The most active online buyers are middle-aged people, whereas the preference for stationary retail increases significantly with age.

Buying behavior: and what does the future look like?

Almost 80 percent of consumers assume that the number of shops will decrease by 2030. Consumers see digitization as the main factor behind this. As a result, retail will (have to) change fundamentally in the next few years. The share of online retailers is currently increasing continuously and according to a forecast, e-commerce sales in Germany will rise to around 77 billion euros by 2020.

A quarter of retailers also fear a decline in sales in stationary retail over the next five years. However, this ensures greater awareness of modernization processes in the retail sector: Almost half of all retailers surveyed have already prepared themselves with the introduction of a digitization strategy. Almost 20 percent are currently planning such a strategy. Here, too, it becomes clear once again that advancing digitization is having an enormous impact on retail and that it is time for them to start implementing a digitization strategy. This is the only way for a company to remain competitive and achieve long-term success.

Almost half of retailers have already started implementing a digitization strategy (47%). This contrasts with 18% of retailers who are currently planning such a strategy. (Source: ibi research, IHK )

The future clearly speaks in favor of omnichannel

Today’s consumers use different channels in parallel due to the wide range of information available: from retail stores to product catalogs and web shops to online marketplaces or mobile shopping apps. Now it is up to the company to also use parallel sales channels in a way that is tailored to the target group. Against the background of dynamic and global markets as well as heterogeneous target groups, the use of new strategies is becoming more and more important for companies in order to be able to keep up with increasing competition. In the meantime, simply integrating an online shop is no longer enough. Rather, it is important to develop a well thought-out omnichannel strategy and implement it in everyday business. Already in our article “Omnichannel strategies” have you learned how to achieve higher profits with such strategies.

So far, only 35 percent of dealers have recognized the potential of this distribution channel. In comparison, more than half of the providers still sell through brick-and-mortar stores alone and 11 percent exclusively through online shops, i.e. without using additional sales channels.

Clearly there is still room for improvement: just 35% of retailers are actively pursuing a multi-channel strategy. (Source: ibi research, IHK )

Every beginning is difficult: Developing an omnichannel strategy takes time and effort. Many retailers are now faced with the challenge of finding a balance between stationary and online retail and offering an appealing shopping experience. But don’t let that unsettle you: if you deal with the future demands of your consumers immediately and adjust to them directly, you can secure long-term success in the highly competitive retail market.

In addition, never let your competitors out of sight when opening new sales channels. Knowledge of essential factors, such as the pricing and range structure of the competition, is of enormous importance. This is exactly where Vistex’s solution for competition monitoring supports you. With the highly automated, self-learning software, you receive up-to-date market data and are therefore always one step ahead of your competition.

With the help of our tool for product and market analysis you always have an eye on your competitors. Convince yourself without obligation of the high data quality and ease of use of our software!

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