We’ve all been there: the thought of trawling the shops in a search for a wardrobe update can sometimes seem such a time-consuming, laborious task. The dreaded dressing-room dramas are enough to put anyone off; standing in a badly-lit cubicle, holding the flimsy curtain shut to avoid passing shoppers, trying to squeeze into a ridiculously sized top – it’s not always a relaxing experience. It’s one of the reasons why consumer shopping behaviours have changed so much in recent years.
Many of us have turned to the world of online shopping, not just for clothing, but for food, homeware, and technology too. And why not? The ease of finding and selecting exactly what you want, at the price you want, at any time of the day, right from the comfort of your own home. What’s not to love?
Consumer shopping behaviours are changing, and it’s now having an effect on the retail industry as a whole. But what do people really prefer – in-store or online shopping?
Vanity Sizing and the ‘Try Before You Buy’ Mentality
Have you ever picked up an item which you thought was your size, only to find that it was far too big? If so, don’t worry; you haven’t suddenly shrunk to the size of a nine-year-old, you’ve just become victim to vanity sizing.
Vanity sizing is a technique used by clothing brands with the aim to make customers feel good about having to buy clothes in smaller sizes than they would elsewhere. Increasing the measurements of garments results in people having to buy one or even two sizes smaller than they normally would. On the flip side, other high-street brands such as H&M have received complaints in the past about their sizes being too small. These days, clothes shopping can involve quite a lot of guesswork and risk-taking. But people don’t want to have to try on multiple sizes of the same garment just to figure out what they should be buying, do they? No, customers want efficiency, ease, and confidence in their sizing.
To keep up with changing consumer shopping behaviours, online retailers such as ASOS have introduced a ‘fit assistant’ service that will help you find the perfect size at the click of a button. All they ask is for your height, weight, and whether you prefer loose- or tight-fitting clothing. Running your data against others’, they compare what people your size bought and didn’t return. The result shows the recommended size for a specific item, which you can then save for later purchases. This meets the demands of the modern customer, who values personalised services. Using technology such as this has made online shopping much more convenient, meaning people don’t even have to leave their homes to make a purchase that they have confidence in.
Of course, when you shop in-store, you’re able to touch the products, try them on, and get a better overall feel for the item. This, for many, is why in-store shopping is still the preferred option. So, to compete with this, online retailers such as Amazon’s ‘Prime Wardrobe’, are now offering ‘try before you buy’ services, meaning that customers don’t need to pay for the item that they have ordered before testing it out at home.
Klarna, for example, works with well-known brands to offer a ‘pay later’ service for customers. They also run a payment plan, to ‘slice’ bulk costs into equal monthly payments, making online shopping more attractive to consumers.
Virtual dressing rooms that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology, is also becoming a popular trend, again altering consumer shopping behaviours by offering alternatives to traditional in-store purchasing. Gap’s 3D dressing room app allows you to create an avatar of yourself to see how different clothes fit on your body shape, avoiding those dressing-room-dramas! Would you be inclined to try this technology out in place of in-store shopping?
Specsavers are also using AI to aid the customer’s journey with their virtual try-on technology. This uses facial analysis to scan the customer’s face shape and features; taking the guesswork out of buying a new pair of glasses. All pretty nifty, right?
Shopping on Social Media
Social media influencers have also had an impact on the way people buy products. Nowadays, people are relying more and more on customer reviews before they buy a product; 60% of consumers look at online reviews at least on a weekly basis, and 93% say that these reviews impact their purchasing decisions. With the rise of social media, some people have built quite a significant following, meaning they have a certain influence over their audience. Brands are now working with these influencers to advertise their products and, as consumers have more reliance on recommendations, this has become an effective marketing technique.
Instagram, for example, has now integrated an online shopping system, where users are able to click on an image which is showcasing a particular product and be taken to the site where they are able to purchase it. This seamless shopping experience enables people to quickly access more information about the product, all without leaving the app.
Technology is now being introduced in-store to meet this demand for convenience. As you may be aware, supermarkets now offer a ‘scan as you shop’ service, where you can pack up your items as you walk around the aisles, paying for everything in one go when you’re finished. No longer do you have to wait in queues at the checkout, which cuts down the amount of time it takes to do your weekly shop! Although this has made shopping in-store easier, online food shopping is even less time-consuming. With just a few clicks, customers can have their food delivered straight to their door, even within a specified time period.
If that wasn’t enough, we now have companies such as HelloFresh, who deliver boxes of fresh ingredients, all readily measured out to make healthy meals. They even provide the step-by-step recipe within the delivery, making mealtimes even more convenient. With our everyday lives getting busier and busier, the less patience we seem to have! So the easier it is to shop for and cook our meals, the more appealing it is!
Even fast food is starting to get faster with the introduction of self-service ordering. McDonald’s has upgraded many of its stores with touch-screen kiosks so that customers can choose exactly they want from a wide range of different choices.
The impact of technology
It’s clear that technology has had a massive impact on consumer shopping behaviour. Customers value convenience, ease, and seamless shopping, opting for the brand that will save them the most time, while still delivering great quality service. The wave of online shopping has had a negative effect on brick-and-mortar shops; we’ve seen big brands suffer – including House of Fraser and Toys R Us.
To get your voice heard by the brands you love, and to get paid for sharing your opinions, why not take part in our market research studies? One method you can take part in is accompanied shopping, where your shopping habits are observed. That’s right – you can get paid to go shopping! They can last between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the study or size of the store. You will be joined by a researcher, who won’t influence you in any way, but may ask you a few questions as you go about your shopping trip! Brands want to know how you shop so that they can get to know you, and what you like. Sign up to our research panel, we look forward to hearing from you!