Tech-savvy shoppers demand innovation from retailers but still value the in-store experience


Almost two-thirds of British shoppers still prefer to see valuable products in stores before buying them, according to fresh research commissioned by Barclays.

However, The Barclays New Retail Reality report also finds that even high street shoppers are eager to use new technology both in-store and online as part of the way they choose what to buy, and then share their views afterwards.

The key finds of the research are:


  • 63% of British shoppers still prefer to physically see valuable products before buying
  • But shoppers are eager for new technologies: 57% would be more likely to visit stores kitted out with smart fitting rooms or virtual reality
  • Shoppers are now five times more likely to use Twitter to complain about purchases than three years ago, and one in three (38%) expect responses within an hour

The research also investigated the impact of the Brexit vote on customers’ attitude to shopping and uncovered a desire for a new form of high street that is more diverse and makes better use of technology.

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said that shop owners should be encouraged that people still want to see products in store, with 81% saying they are more likely to shop in the high street branch of a national retailer than from the same retailer online (81% v 60%). “Our research reveals that the public still see the high street as an essential part of the shopping experience and as a national treasure they want to see protected.

“Consumer confidence in the retail sector is continuing despite uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, and there are opportunities ahead for retailers if they can maximise the opportunity of ‘Brand Britain’, both at home and abroad.”

The research provides a check list for retailers wanting to attract customers in the post-Brexit economy including:

  1. They are also more likely to shop in the high street branch of a local or independent retailer (77%) than use a subscription delivery service (17%) or the mobile app of an internet only retailer (36%).
  2. Investing more on technologies in-store would give high street retailers a further boost. The research reveals that shoppers (65%) are eager to see more touchscreen technology.
  3. Newer, more experiential technologies is also popular: shoppers are more likely to visit a store kitted out with virtual reality (57%), smart fitting rooms (57%) or augmented reality (52%).
  4. In addition, new payment technologies are highly rated by consumers, with many describing contactless (48%) and mobile payments (37%) as “life changing”.

In another technological shift, shoppers are now five times more likely to use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to complain about a product than they were three years ago.

And they want a quick response when they complain, with one in three (38%) expecting a complaint made via social media responded to within an hour.

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