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Oracle’s Study on “The New Retail Democracy”

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If you think the democratization of retail is far-fetched, think again.

Oracle surveyed 4,500 adult consumers worldwide and found that having input in the retail process from sourcing to shipping is becoming a primary goal for the majority of people questioned.

The consumer wants to initiate decisions concerning the supply chain—where to buy, ship, pick up and return orders; they want to determine merchandising operations—ethical sourcing, price, delivery times and item availability; being able to sell their used or unwanted items through channels like eBay or Amazon is also important; finally the ability to influence others on purchase decisions through social media, product reviews and educating peer groups is now considered standard procedure.

52% of those surveyed indicated that round-the-clock access and availability are primary motivators for purchase and loyalty.

92% of global respondents want to understand product availability in-store or online. Almost half (46%) are more likely to be loyal to a retailer that provides information on availability, while 30% are inclined to spend more money with these retailers and 18% will select another retailer that does provide visibility to availability.

58% said product availability trumps price. Over 90% of the respondents said they would not wait for products to be re-stocked and 88% indicated they would search online or try to find another retailer in search of their preferred item. If you take this study to heart, this means retailers will inevitably lose to their competition, so the importance of coordinating forecasting, planning, merchandising, supply chain, marketing and selling across all platforms are essential for preserving your store and brand.

A third of the respondents noted that technology that delivers visibility to stock at point of purchase and access to product information across channels offer the most value to shoppers. About 30% of American consumers felt individualized targeted promotions played a significant role in choosing retailers.

Despite growing online purchases and preference for commerce and access anywhere at any time, the in-store shopping experience remained the favored mode of buying products. Customer service and personal interaction by store staff still add value to the shopping process. Retail staffing firms continue to demonstrate their expertise in delivering this life force to the store.

It is also interesting to note that while the majority of customers spent more money when sales associates helped them, almost half of those same customers said they felt they had better access to product, pricing and availability than the staff. 

Retailers need to arm their salespeople with the same if not better knowledge and technology to stay one step ahead of the consumer and provide more productive outcomes.

As a sidebar to all this, Gap just announced that this June, The Gap Inc. will be instituting "order in-store" to capture customers who would otherwise leave the store after failing to find their size, style or color. Gap officials noted that close to 70% of shoppers across their Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores leave without making a purchase largely due to the lack of availability of a particular item.

"There is a huge amount of that traffic today that is walking out the door where we feel there is a really big conversion opportunity," said Art Peck, Gap Inc.'s president, growth, innovation and digital. Even though shoppers will be able to access this service, Gap expects sales associates to drive this service and emphasize the retailer’s ability to deliver product the same or next day. Gap thinks shoppers will put up with an out-of-stock item if the promise of availability and delivery is prompt and forthcoming.

In short, availability and loyalty are directly related. Transparency at all levels of the retail operation is a salient point here. If products aren’t accessible and deliverable within specified time frames, the consumer walks.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, merchandising, omni-channel, customer service,
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