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Brands need to create ‘retail theatres’ to appeal to younger shoppers

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Oct 28, 2014

Retailers need to find new ways to connect with young consumers’ online and offline, by enhancing the in-store experience to avoid missing out on bricks-and-mortar sales, according to a new report by Samsung.

Entitled, ‘Future Shoppers’, the report examines the retail experiences of 16-24 year olds to further understand the purchasing decisions of the nation’s next generation of shoppers, and it found that even though the British high street and shopping centre environments are very popular for these young consumers looking to socialise with friends or browse products, when it comes to making a purchase, it found that retailers are missing out on the immediate in-store opportunities to make sales.

The report found that, while 71 percent of 16-24 year olds visit large retail environments at least once a fortnight, with two-thirds visiting to look for a specific item, they frequently opt to make their final purchase online, and increasingly through their smartphones. With the findings claiming that 44 percent of young consumers use their mobile devices to search for a better price online while they are still in store.

Graham Long, vice president of Samsung’s Enterprise Business, explains: “Young adults may be socialising in retail environments, but, by and large, when it comes to spending on products they are shopping alone and seeking the most convenient way to complete their purchase.

“We’re seeing the emergence of a generation of sophisticated shoppers, with considerable disposable income, who have high expectations of what they expect from the high-street and other retail environments.”

Samsung report challenges retailers to make in-store experiences more engaging

Over two-thirds of those surveyed said that retailers could be doing more to keep them interested in products when they are already in-store, while 68 percent said they expect retailers to “try something new” in order to make the physical retail space more appealing to them.

The research also found that retailers need to make sure they are communicating the benefits of existing in-store technology to fully capture the attention of young shoppers, as at present less than 20 percent would scan QR codes and less than 10 percent use augmented reality apps. Although nearly half of those questioned said that they would actively choose to visit retailers who use technology to enhance the experience; citing both receiving discounts to their devices as they pass a retailer, and the opportunity to customise products they like while in-store, as equally exciting future developments.

Long added: “While we know that the high street has been losing ground to online shopping, young adults demonstrably enjoy shopping in the real world and are eager to engage with retailers that cater to their needs. Vendors who create exciting in-store environments, where shoppers can experience and interact with their products, could protect themselves from losing a customer to an online seller offering something as simple as a slight price discount.

“Young consumers embrace technology that delivers value when they’re shopping. Retailers need to be using technology to create a sense of retail theatre and bring their physical environment to life; they need to enhance the shopping experience. It’s not just a case of replicating online in-store; they need to be better at bridging the gap between the two and creating a sense of retail theatre. A seamless experience will gain the loyalty of young consumers, helping create engaged, connected and happy customers.”

The Future Shoppers research surveyed 1,001 16-24 year olds in the UK earlier this month.