Questioning the Value of Brick & Mortar; Load Speed Hurts Seasonal Sales

The Future of Brick-and-Mortar

RetailTechNews’ weekly roundup brings you up-to-date research findings from around the world. In this week’s edition: Questioning the Value of Brick & Mortar; Load Speed Hurts Seasonal Sales; and Shoppers Becoming More Fickle.

Questioning the Value of Brick & Mortar

Just 7% of Brits browse exclusively in-store before making a high-value purchase (identified as costing over £250) – putting pressure on the value of brick-and-mortar stores in the UK, according to data from Divido.

While this might reinforce the notion that the future of retail is only online, all is not lost for the high street. Over a quarter (28%) of consumers like to go in-store to look at an item before making a high-value purchase, while almost a third (32%) are happy with just having the option to complete a transaction in-store, suggesting the high street remains an integral part of the buying process.

The research also highlights spending influences, with social media promotion surprisingly having limited influence on consumers. In fact, UK shoppers are twice as likely to be influenced by friends and family over what they see being promoted on social media; just 30% state social media promotion affects buying decisions. Meanwhile, the availability of different finance options is becoming more appealing for Brits, with 17% highlighting that this is an important factor when making high-value purchases.

Almost two-thirds (61%) say they would remain loyal to a retailer if the payment process was easy; and a further 36% would shop again with a retailer if they offered point-of-sale finance – i.e. the ability to spread the cost of high-value purchases over a number of months, rather than a one-off cost.

Load Speed Hurts Seasonal Sales

The UK’s top retailers are risking seasonal sales through failure to improve their website load speeds over the past 12 months, finds a study from Visualsoft.

The study found that 62% of retail websites rated as ‘poor’ for page load speed – taking longer than nine seconds to load on 3G – in comparison to 54% of sites that rated poor in 2017.

A further 16% of retailers’ sites took 15 seconds or longer to load. This figure has worsened by 4% vs the same time last year. Google estimates that these e-retailers will be losing a minimum of 32% of all potential visitors, through load time alone.

Only 1% of the retailers tested were marked ‘excellent’ – taking under four seconds to load and expected to experience low levels of potential visitor loss. This is also a worse performance than 2017, when 2% of retailers were rated as excellent.

The figures run contrary to the growing importance of mobile in driving seasonal revenues. Statistics show that Black Friday weekend was the biggest ever for traffic and sales made via mobile; and the trend is only set to continue in the lead-up to Christmas.

Shoppers Becoming More Fickle

More than half (53%) of sales and marketing professionals say the length of time they hold onto customers has declined compared to 10 years ago, according to Copper.

Of these, around half say their customer relationships are now three to ten years shorter. Crucially, however, only 14% of marketing professionals have seen relationships become longer.

The study also revealed that for two-thirds of UK businesses, there are now ten or more people involved in selling to a prospect or customer, creating a greater challenge to properly manage business relationships and opening up more opportunities for mistakes. The research uncovered that CRM-related errors have resulted in a quarter (25%) of sales and marketing professionals annoying or upsetting a prospect or customer, while one-in-ten have lost a prospect or customer due to a CRM-related error.

Despite these figures, changes in how businesses communicate with prospects and customers could hold the key to strengthening customer relations. The report further revealed that, through the use of email, 47% of sales and marketing professionals say it’s easier to build relationships; and almost two-fifths (39%) say they now spend more time face-to-face with customers or prospects.