69% of Aussies Preferred Shopping In-Store in 2015. Now It’s Still Over 50%. So What About eCommerce?

The demand for in-store shopping in AU & NZ continues. But now, customers also demand online & omnichannel shopping experiences, including Click & Collect.
min read
Retail Express Team
September 9, 2022
Retail Express Team
September 9, 2022

Table of contents

NB: This article has been recently updated (2022) since its initial 2015 publication.

It’s hardly surprising that Covid-19 caused a massive online shopping spike. Holed up in our homes, slowly going insane, what else were we to do? But now we’re on the other side of the pandemic, Aussies still prefer to shop in-store.

But is online shopping truly better than in-store shopping? Are brick and mortar stores enough?

Frankly, neither of these questions are good questions. Today’s retailers need both. First, here’s a super quick look at what’s happened over the last few years.

How the popularity of in-store retail has changed

When we published this article in 2015, 69% of Aussie shoppers preferred to shop in-store, online shopping hadn’t taken hold, and Click & Collect was new. In 2021/2022, most Aussies still prefer to shop in-store — but they also love shopping online — and Click & Collect is a big deal.

In-store retail popularity in 2015 (69%)

Back in March 2015, a study conducted by Oracle revealed that Australians still preferred the in-store experience (69%) over their German (57%), French (54%) and US (50%) counterparts. This was a colossal study — surveying 5000 individuals from 10 countries worldwide on their shopping habits both on and offline.

At the time, it was a fair assumption to say such popularity for in-store shopping down under could have been due to Aussies being slow adopters to the online trend. But even after Covid, brick and mortar stores are still leading the way. 

In-store retail popularity in 2021 (> 50%)

According to Retailbiz, consumer intelligence platform Toluna published a 2021 study indicating that a little over half of the consumers preferred to shop in-store for clothing (59%), beauty products (56%) and sporting equipment (53%). The lowest level of enthusiasm for in-store shopping was not surprising — 51% of those purchasing electronics prefer online shopping. 

Come technological advances, pandemics or natural disasters, traditional brick and mortar shopping experiences remain popular. Maintaining a physical store presence (for most) is still vital; there’s no evidence you should tear up your lease or close your doors soon. But this doesn’t mean having a brick and mortar store is enough.

Today, shopping preferences have changed in even more ways. Now, they want it all. Customers demand multiple channels and limitless choices. And — importantly — they want an outstanding customer experience. So what’s a hard-working retailer supposed to do? You provide customers with the fluidity of omnichannel retail to seamlessly satisfy their demand.

TIP:No matter where customers shop, retail is better with better point of salesoftware. To show you how much better, Retail Express offer free customiseddemonstrations. We’ll ask questions and listen to your needs, then tailor ademo specifically for your business.

Find out how you can improve your retail business. Get a free demo today with an Australian-based retail expert.

Why customer experiences are vital in every retail channel

Touching, feeling & talking

In the 2021 Toluna study, consumers who switched to doing more of their shopping online were asked what they missed most about in-store shopping. The answer? They missed the tactile experience —the touching, the feeling and the talking.

 Let’s look at how they ranked these experiences more closely:

  • Handpicking items - 67%
  • Trying things on – 57%
  • Testing items before purchasing them – 46%
  • Face-to-face customer service – 50%

The critical takeaway from the above was how much shoppers value a good customer experience. This is great to know for brick and mortar stores. But given that today’s consumers also like to shop online, how can we improve the customer experience online without all the touchy-feely stuff? 

Australia and New Zealand country director of Toluna, Sej Patel, offers the following advice.

“We hear a lot about the importance of experiential retail, and these results show us that experience is as important as ever. Shoppers want to touch and feel products, try them on, to speak to customer support people in real life. Bricks and mortar retailers can take comfort in this and continue to provide the best in-store experiences for their customers,” he said.

“For online retailers, it’s clear that price and convenience alone isn’t enough to keep people exclusively shopping online post-COVID. Customers crave a tactile shopping experience, so the eCommerce sites which are adding experiential features like AR and virtual product try-ons, are the ones who’ll remain competitive long term.”

So let’s see what we can do to improve your retail strategy.

How to improve the customer experience online

Virtual Try-ons and AR

Some retail industries like electronics have an online shopping advantage. An iPhone is an iPhone, after all. But some retailers in different fields are reaping rewards by embracing artificial reality (AR) to improve the visual experience or even offer shoppers ‘virtual try-ons’ to close the deal.

In particular, sales of sunglasses, reading glasses, makeup, clothing, hair colour, watches, and shoes benefit from virtual product try-ons. According to the Toluna study, of the 13% who tried on products virtually online, 77% were satisfied with their experience, and 73% said they’re more likely to purchase products they’ve tried on virtually.

48% of consumers globally would now choose Click & Collectas a prime fulfilment option...

Click & Collect

Offering clients Click & Collect as a fulfilment option is almost essential today. And its phenomenal growth only proves its popularity. For example, the statistics we initially quoted in 2015 now look laughable. Back then, we reported Click & Collect doubling from 4% to 8% in just one year. 

Amazing stuff.

But today? 48% of consumers globally would now choose Click & Collect as a prime fulfilment option, according to Research by Inside Retail.

Click & Collect is also the gift that keeps on giving. Not only do customers love the convenience, but they spend more. 58% of customers made additional purchases when collecting an online order in-store, according to InsideRetail, quoting a UK Click & Collect provider.  

Successful Click & Collect options are everywhere. In the US, major brands such as Walmart, Target and Saks have been leading the way for some nine years, as have Selfridges and Halfords in the UK. Australia has been slower to embrace the trend. Still, now it is taking off, especially with grocers like Coles and retailers such as JB-HiFi, Bunnings, eBay, Wittner, Target, Kmart and David Jones.

From the blog: How to Set up and Launch a Click and Collect Strategy: a Must-Read for Retailers

Personalisation, connection and branding

Leveraging the competitive advantages of AI and the conveniences of Click & Collect is highly recommendable. But we also have to remember that since Covid, consumers are now more emotionally focused. They care about connections, personalisation, relationships and affiliation with brands.

If you haven’t started already, it’s time to dive into personalisation and brand building activities. Here’s how you can get started. 

Providing you have an agile point of sale software installed, you can easily collect your customers’ data online or at the POS using marketing and loyalty tools. Then, you can use this data to segment your audiences for more personalised marketing and loyalty campaigns. For example, you can create groups based on your customers’ spending history, preferences, age, location and loyalty points. 

Instead of sending out annoying blanket emails, you’ll deliver personalised, enticing offers and rewards to the right customers. They’ll get more of what they want and less of what they don’t. 

The outcome? They’ll appreciate the personalisation and attention to detail, feel acknowledged and become more connected to your brand. So you’ll create loyal brand ambassadors, not one-time customers. It’s a positive, people-centric, brand-building recipe for success — and greater profits.

Read more about customer service & experiences from the blog:

Making the switch to omnichannel retail

So how’s all this done? It may be easier than you think(but as with any change, there’s work involved). Providing you have at least one brick and mortar store and an eCommerce platform, you integrate your bricks and clicks by embracing powerful omnichannel POS software. After all, the verdict is clear. 

It’s no longer about online or in-store shopping — it’s just shopping. Or rather, it’s about offering personalised shopping and seamless customer experiences at every channel, and you can only do this with the right software. 

Your customers will appreciate a bucketload of benefits once you implement the following:

  • Display live stock availability online – so customers can see what you have and where they can purchase it 
  • Click & Collect – offering more fulfilment convenience
  • Decentralised fulfilment (Ship from Store) – enabling faster and often less expensive shipping
  • Personalised loyalty and marketing campaigns — for a far better customer experience
  • Easy returns – either online or in-store

You and your entire team will also reap enormous benefits through omnichannel software:

Using cloud-based POS software, you’ll never suffer from outages, security breaches or data delays

Next steps{Next steps: Get a free demo}

Find out how Retail Express can help your retail business deliver winning online and in-store customer experiences with powerful omnichannel POS software. Get in touch for a free personalised demo today.  

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  1. Inside Retail - Analysis: Here’s what the future of click and collect looks like
  2. Retailbiz: Australians prefer shopping in-store, but virtual experiences on the rise
  3. Inside Retailer: “Were a bit behind”: More Aussie retailers need to offer click and collect

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