Visa Europe looks into the consumers’ future shopping habits

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Visa Europe looks into the consumers’ future shopping habitsVisa Europe has recently published research findings from its Future of Retail study about what is influencing the change in the way people shop. The study, which was commissioned with research and advisory firm Stylus, looks at how in this day and age, with everything integrated into everyday life through apps such as Pinterest and Instagram, people who observe an item are inspired and immediately go online to look for it and possibly buy it.

The report looks at different vital consumer trends that retailers need to be aware of, such as omni-channel shopping, the growing significance of social media in the shopping cycle and the importance of mobile technology.

The research reveals that Spain ranks first in Future of Retail Market Readiness score, with the UK ranking second among the top 10 European countries which are best positioned for the next generation of retail.

The Future of Retail Market Readiness Index takes into account four different factors which determine how future retail-ready countries are; age demographics, smartphone penetration, contactless usage and social media penetration.

To derive the Index score, the methodology applies a weighting to each of the factors for each of the four areas, in line with its relative importance to the Future of Retail picture. The weightings are; smartphone penetration – 40%, contactless usage – 25%, social media penetration – 25%, age – 10%.

Commenting on the release of the report, Efraim Preisler, Senior Relationship Manager, Israel and Malta at Visa Europe said, "although the report focuses on the top 10 European countries which are best positioned for the next generation of retail, Malta can draw inspiration from these findings and adapt accordingly. We have seen a large increase in the use of mobile technology and social media in Malta over the last few years; an ideal situation for retailers to take advantage of tech innovation and revolutionise the way we shop. Retailers across the island have an unparallelled opportunity to satisfy customers who want an engaging and personalised experience when they shop, be it online or in-store."

The report identifies the major trends shaping the future of retail:

Customers want personalised shopping experiences across all touch points

Whether in a physical store or through digital channels, shopping is no longer simply a utilitarian acquisition of a need or want; customers are seeking to be entertained, surprised and delighted by their retail experience. Increasingly, people are becoming accustomed to algorithms that learn about their preferences and their behaviours to offer online shoppers personalised recommendations. Consumers now want that same customised experience of suggestions and alerts when they shop on the high street.

There is growing demand for social shopping experiences

At a time when consumers are more socially connected than ever, Visa's research shows that integration with social media channels is essential for retailers. Today's shoppers expect social media to be integrated throughout their shopping experience "from play to pay." An item pinned on Pinterest may spark a consumer's interest to research the product online, followed by consultations with friends or looking at product reviews and culminate with photos of the newly purchased item being shared on Instagram.

One of the most important elements of this finding for retailers to reflect on is the shift in consumer behaviour from "buy it now" to "hold/consider/consult," when people pause on their purchase to seek out their friends' opinions or find the best price.

Mobile technology has the potential to bridge the gap between online and offline retail experiences

Smartphones offer today's shoppers both the ability to stay connected via social media as well as the potential to break down the barriers between a personalised digital experience and the high street experience, which nowadays is still characterised by even the most loyal customers being anonymous when they walk through the door.

Beacon and Bluetooth technologies have the potential to identify loyal shoppers and send them messages based on previous purchases or items they may currently have in their online checkout basket.

Mobile technology can also improve the payment experience with mobile point of sale devices that enable sales assistants to move away from fixed till points and deeper into the selling space, creating better engagement with their customers. Plus, with mobile payment services, paying by card is faster and more convenient than ever.

The face of retail will rapidly change as consumer consumption patterns continue to evolve, with new channels, new payment technologies and new buying opportunities becoming available.

Visa Europe said that it is set to promote innovative payment methods in the local market and adapt to the change in the behaviour of the consumer. Visa's contactless technology, which is expected to become available in Malta in the near future, will offer Maltese consumers a more convenient way to pay, simply by waving their Visa contactless card over the retailer's contactless reader.

Visa Europe continues to invest in innovation including a number of secure payment technologies such as tokenisation, to make payments safe, secure and convenient.

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