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Aussies expect to do half their shopping online by 2022

In five years’ time, Australian consumers expect to split the majority of their shopping between online and in-store, with 45 per cent of purchases expected to occur online and 48 per cent in-store.

This was the finding of a survey of 500 Australian consumers conducted in August by the Australian Consumer, Retail, and Services (ACRS) Research Unit on behalf of Salmat.

When it comes to the online shopping experience, the majority of Australian shoppers (80 per cent) said they want to see a free and easy returns policy from retailers in five years’ time, followed by same-day delivery (75 per cent).

However, when selecting what same-day delivery option shoppers most prefer, delivery to the exact location by a person is the most preferred method (56 per cent), and only 15 per cent like to see delivery to their exact location by an automated device.

Sampling was also revealed to be a popular tool, with 43 per cent of shoppers reporting that free sampling or loan products delivered to their homes to test is something they would like as a way to research and compare products.

Online-only apparel retailers like Trunk Club and StitchFix in the US have tapped into the ‘try before you buy’ trend by sending customers regular shipments of clothing to try on at home.

But while some retailers – like Ikea and Redbubble – have recently embraced augmented and virtual reality as a way to offer ‘try before you buy’ at scale, only 11 per cent of shoppers say they will research and compare products using augmented and virtual reality in the future.

When it comes to personalisation, 39 per cent of shoppers said they would only be willing to share their personal information with retailers if they receive personalised offers relevant to their needs and tastes. The same amount would not share their personal information for any reason.

However, 58 per cent of respondents would be open to retail shopping assistants suggesting products and services based on their personal information and purchase history, demonstrating shoppers are more comfortable if personalisation tactics are used in-store.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Salmat’s head of marketing, Ben Hillman, said: “The results are interesting, particularly when looking at the Amazon effect internationally and with its impending entry into the Australian market.

“The company has built their success off fast delivery and logistics, and according to them, technology like drones will be the future for delivering goods. What our data surprisingly suggests is that Aussie consumers still have a way to go to fully embrace digital technologies – and whilst technology is great for the research of a product and service, when it comes to buying and delivering, it is still vitally important for shoppers to maintain a greater level of control.”

Indeed, 59 per cent of consumers want an equal balance of interaction between technology and humans, while 26 per cent will prefer interacting with a real person. Overall, 53 per cent of shoppers won’t let smart, automated technology – such as robot assistants, automated scheduling apps, and face and body recognition – buy any products or services for them.

This reveals the important role of bricks-and-mortar stores in shoppers’ lives in five years’ time, according to Sean Sands, managing director at ACRS.

“Over the past decade, online retailing and social media have led many commentators to suggest that physical retail would eventually decline or die. However, this is by no means the case. Humans are essentially descendants of hunters and gathers, and we still desire the “hunt of the kill” which translates today to touching, feeling, and experiences of physical space,” he said.

“Online is an important component of the retail mix, and for the next five years at least, in-store will continue to be the central hub for consumer interactions and shopping experiences.”

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