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Is Australia in the mood for shopping in-store? Research reveals how bricks-and-mortar retailers can compete with online


It is no secret that traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores are in fierce competition with online retailers. Given the widespread use of smartphones and the ease and convenience of online shopping, it is no surprise that customers are increasingly forgoing a trip to the store in favour of purchasing online.

This means that brick-and-mortar stores need to evolve and also provide an experience that a customer cannot get online. 78% of Australian consumers choose bricks-and-mortar stores over online because of the ability to try, touch and feel products.

Furthermore, 64% of Millennials in Australia would rather shop in-store than online if the right mood or atmosphere (music, scent, visuals) is created. Across all ages the percentage is 55%.  Over 70% of under 45’s would like to receive redeemable promotions on their mobile device while in store.

If you are a retailer then these statistics from Mood Media’s recent quantitative study should be both a relief because it proves the advantage you can have over online retail, but it also should energise you to be more competitive in the shopping experience you offer.

Consumers – particularly younger consumers – aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience, and their expectations for a positive, emotionally engaging experience are quite high. Shopping as a form of entertainment remains important to consumers.

The tangible, tactile nature of bricks-and-mortar is still viewed as a very real advantage, as is the desire for instant gratification. Those businesses who deliver an elevated customer experience witness greater repeat visits, a greater number of recommendations and longer in-store dwell times.

In our unprecedented survey of more than 11,000 consumers in nine countries across the globe, including Australia, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, we uncovered five key strategies to help you deliver an effective shopping experience as well as enable your business to gain a competitive advantage.

1. Avoid in-store frustrations

Shoppers main frustrations include items or sizes being out of stock (56%), waiting in line (55%), and the store being too busy or hectic (45%).

Keeping a close eye on stock management is now more important than ever before with international brands benefiting from state of the art supply chain operations, making them agile and able to keep up with changing sales trends. As is having the right ratio of staff to customers, keeping in mind that this varies.

Music appears to provide quite the tonic for some in-store frustrations, with eight out of ten people globally finding waiting times to be less dull when music is playing, and 90% saying that music makes their shopping experience more enjoyable and lifts their mood.

2. Atmosphere is the competitive edge over online shopping

Appealing to the senses is proven to work. For instance, when music is partnered with visuals and scent to create a bespoke in-store atmosphere, 64% of Australian consumers say they’re more likely to “revisit”, and 54% say they’re more likely to “recommend the place to others”. 68% of Millennials (25-34 year olds in the research) cited an enjoyable, branded in-store atmosphere would make them more likely to “stay in-store for longer”.

In nearly all instances across the world, those aged 18-34 rate the “atmosphere and experience” to be more important than any other age group, with one in three citing it is as the top reason to choose in-store over shopping online.

Bricks-and-mortar stores have an advantage over online retail when it comes to being able to create an atmosphere that creates more sales opportunities. In fact, online retail giant Amazon, is beginning to open physical retail stores where it can create an in-store experience to connect with consumers.

So be purposeful in creating an enjoyable atmosphere in your store. This comes down to music, visuals, store layout, interactive experiences, and even the scent in-store.

3. Remember that most impulse buys aren’t triggered by accident

Store-based retailing is a more natural fit for impulse. Consumers prefer shopping in-store because of immediacy, convenience, easier returns of unsuitable purchases, and being able to try before buying – which are also all key elements of an impulse buy.

When it comes to making unplanned purchases, 62% of Australian consumers across all ages cite that “discounts and promotions” most influence their impulse purchases, with men being slightly more sensitive to this leverage.

There’s no better way for retailers to convey information such as offers and discounts than through effective digital signage.  It is proven that people process visual information 60,000 times faster than text.

Digital signage solutions also offer fast and effective ways of changing the in-store message whether it be offers or stimulating branding footage. It also offers savings on the use of paper posters and is of course so much more environmentally friendly.

4. Give customers more control

According to the study, almost three quarters of Millennials (25-34 years old in the research) from across Australia would like the opportunity to influence music played in-store. Australia is the top country overall wanting to be able to influence the music playing in-store (49% vs. 41% of worldwide respondents).

Brick-and-mortar stores can actually give their customers more control over influencing factors such as the music that they are listening to. If you let consumers pick their music, you are creating another opportunity to engage with them – and consumers will remember ‘their’ song when they are sitting in that bar or restaurant and shopping in a store.

We’ve seen the benefit of giving consumers the opportunity to influence the music played within the retail space through our ‘Social Mix’ innovation. This technology gives customers the ability to vote for the songs they would like to be played in-store while they are shopping, which has seen an increase in the amount of time they spend in-store.

5. It’s 2017 – in-store should be embracing smart phones

If you aren’t an online retailer, it does not mean that you shouldn’t embrace online opportunities, including mobile. More than half of people surveyed wanted to receive redeemable promotions on their mobile phones while in-store.

Shoppers, especially younger shoppers, from Australia are most likely to use their mobile to scour social media, so ensure that your business has a presence on favoured social channels.

When asked what type of stores they would like to receive redeemable mobile promotions from, Baby Boomers, Generation X (35-54 years old) and Millennials from most countries including Australia select supermarkets and grocery, while the youngest generation select clothing and footwear.

All in all, changes in technology and consumer behaviour are driving major changes to brick-and-mortar stores. And if your business can adapt to these changes, you will be well placed for long-term success. Mood Media’s free booklet offers further insight into consumer preferences and plan how to keep your customers in-store rather than online.

Steve Hughes is the Managing Director of Mood Media Australia. Mood Media delivers sensory branding to more than 500,000 active client locations around the globe. In Australia its clients include businesses of all sizes and market sectors, including Myer, Kmart, The Hilton, David Jones, BWS, Woolworths, Country Road, Freedom, Amcal and Michael Hill.

Steve Hughes_Mood Media Australia