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Here’s What You Need to Know About Shoppers Around the Globe


Global shoppers are alike in many ways but show some differences as well, according to a new iVend Retail report.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

South Africans love shopping through social platforms, consumers in the UAE use in-store kiosks regularly, Filipinos expect retailers to push offers and coupons to their smartphones in store for immediate use, and nearly all Mexicans engage in the common practice of showrooming.

These were among the insights that omnichannel technology firm iVend Retail uncovered in its 2018 “Global Path to Purchase: How the Modern Path to Purchase Differs Around the World” report, highlighting key nuances in how global shoppers behave online, in stores and with their trusted smartphones.

Showrooming and its opposite, webrooming, are now mundane practices among shoppers who want to check out products in person before purchasing online—or vice versa. However, why consumers engage in these behaviors can differ significantly based on culture and geography. Though most (53.9%) survey respondents said they webroom because it allows them to take their time before deciding what to buy, a greater number of those in the Philippines (67.6%) indicated that “convenience” is the primary motivator. By contrast, 58.8% of surveyed shoppers in Mexico said that webrooming helps them search for the best prices or take advantage of offers that are available in-store only.  Overall, the top global reasons for webrooming include preventing a store visit that leaves shoppers empty-handed (39.2%) and reacting to an online ad or email (25.8%).

Though 83.8% of global shoppers engage in showrooming, the rates come in much higher in the Philippines (94.8%) and in Mexico (97.2%), where 62 percent said they enjoyed being able to interact with products prior to purchasing, ahead of the 51.2% of global respondents who expressed the same sentiment.

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Shoppers worldwide rely on their smartphones during the path to purchase and especially in stores. Though most (60.1%) global shoppers said they use their smartphones in a brick-and-mortar setting, and typically for pricing research and comparison (38.3%), Mexicans (48 percent) and Filipino (58.8%) shoppers were more likely to engage in pricing lookups.

In the Philippines, 90 percent of surveyed consumers there shop with merchants who send out mobile offers to their smartphones for in-store, on-the-spot redemption; 82 percent of consumers in Mexico similarly buy based on the discounts and promos pushed to their mobile devices in store. Note that 43 percent of all surveyed consumers said they’ve never received a retail offer pushed to their phone while in store, and this figure is slightly higher (48.8%) for surveyed consumers in the U.S.

Making the effort to go to a store typically implies an intent to purchase, so it’s no surprise that most (67.3%) global consumers said they leave a store empty-handed simply because they couldn’t find what they were looking for. However, shoppers in Canada (75.6%), South Africa (73.6%), Germany (73.2%) and the USA (72.8%) cited the inability to locate products of interest above the global average. Other reasons for leaving a store without buying include the location not having desired products available (66.3%), where again Canadian (76.8%), U.S. (70.4%) and South African (70%) shoppers expressed this challenge above the global average.

Kiosks have penetrated retail as a fast and easy way for consumers to access product information and other key information on an as needed-basis, without having to flag down a sales associate. Kiosks proved popular among consumers in South Africa (73.6%) and UAE (72.2%), who were more likely than the global average to report using these in-store technologies.

One finding from the iVend Retail report could influence how some global marketers and e-commerce teams think about the cart abandonment phenomenon. More than one third (34.5%) of global shoppers said they effectively use their online shopping carts as a wish list—adding items and leaving them there (without purchasing) to revisit as a source of inspiration and aspiration. Shoppers in the Philippines (41.6%), Mexico (41.2%), Canada (40.4%) and Germany (40.4%) were more likely to engage in this behavior.

Consumers in the U.S. often complain about “creepy” retargeting ads that “follow” them around the internet. Though just under than half (46.4%) of global shoppers never click on retargeting ads, they’re very popular among shoppers in Mexico, where just 8.4% said they’d never clicked on one. Overall, global shoppers ended up clicking through retargeting ads because they’re a reminder of an intended purchases (22.8%), tempting (20.1%) and helpful with guiding shoppers back to desired products without having to track down the webpage themselves (15.7%).

Social platforms continue to influence how shoppers interact with retailers. Worldwide, more than two thirds (68.2%) of shoppers acted on an offer they received through a social site, though the numbers are lower for UK (58 percent), Canada (46 percent), and Australia (42 percent).

The research found that social shopping has taken off in South Africa, where 79.2% reported engaging in this activity. The social aspect truly is influential among these consumers; just more than half (50.8%) expressed being able to see others’ comments and feedback on products as the primary reason they respond to retail offers on these platforms.

Retailers have been focusing on bringing more tech into the commerce experience but how do shoppers really feel about this? When given five choices, global consumers were most interested in automatic payment through a digital shopping cart (32.9%). Despite all the hype over Amazon’s Alexa and other voice-assistant technologies, just 16.7% of survey takers expressed interest in voice-enabled shopping. In-store robots also ended up at the bottom of the list, with just 15.6% of global consumers seeing the potential for this retail tech.

Note that a significant quantity of consumers is just fine with the status quo. Slightly more than a third (36.1%) of global consumers dismissed the notion of using new technologies during their in-store shopping journeys. Those in emerging nations like Mexico and the Philippines (6.8% and 10.4%, respectively) were far less likely to say they were uninterested in new store tech, while the opposite is true in more advanced countries. In the UK, Canada, Australia and USA (56.4%, 52.4%, 51.6%, and 46%, respectively), where tech is a regular part of the store experience for many shoppers, consumers were much more likely to write off the idea of bringing more technology into brick-and-mortar.