For retailers the importance of engaging digitally with customers is widely recognised, however a new report suggests they are underestimating just how powerful digital interactions can be when it comes to influencing shopping behaviour.

The report from Deloitte, Navigating the new digital divide – digital influence in Australian retail, examines how the ‘digital influence factor’ affects decision making instore. ‘Digital influence’ is defined as the percentage of traditional bricks-and-mortar retail visits affected by shoppers’ use of digital devices before or during the shopping trip.

Digital interactions influenced 40 per cent of in-store retail visits in Australia in 2014, which is third behind US (49 per cent) and Canada (41 per cent), but ahead of Germany (30 per cent), The Netherlands (30 per cent) and the UK (27 per cent).

Deloitte found 65 per cent of customers use a digital device before shopping and 31 per cent while shopping. Further, 47 per cent will use their device to compare products, 42 per cent to access product information and 33 per cent to check product availability.

“In our Retail Review Christmas Survey, we found just a third of Australian retailers citing omni-channel as their number one strategic priority,” said David White, Deloitte partner and retail industry leader. “The findings from this digital divide report should be a wake-up call for the retail sector which is at risk of underestimating local consumer appetite for digital engagement. Global brands have educated Australian consumers to expect internationally competitive pricing, an endless aisle and greater shopping convenience. Digital will soon be the deciding success factor in retail.”

According to the report, when consumers use digital devices to research, find and compare products before of after shopping in-store, it boosts the average conversion rate by 25 per cent, and increases shoppers’ order sizes by 21 per cent on average.

“Historically, local retail sales have not gone online in Australia as quickly as in other markets,” explains Katherine Milesi, Deloitte digital partner. “That is fast changing. Digital is becoming an integral part of every element of the instore shopping experience. Australian retailers need to understand how to harness its influence to increase conversion rates and order sizes.”

From the research, Deloitte proposes five changes retailers may need to make:

  • Reimagine the customer experience – to offer a relevant and personalised experience throughout the customer journey through a deep understanding of customer preferences and shopping behaviours.
  • Reset pricing strategy – to allow greater speed and flexibility in setting and changing prices to attract customers and maintain margins.
  • Rethink the supply chain – to expand ranges without the associated cost, improve delivery convenience to customers and create cost efficiencies in the value chain.
  • Redefine the role of the store – to blend the physical and digital experience more seamlessly and reconsider the purpose of the store in the shopping journey or experience.
  • Reinvent the in-store employee experience – to bridge the current digital gap in the in-store experience.


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