Newcastle based hedgehog lab, a client of Whitecap, recently published a research report focusing on retail in a post-PC world. The results showcase the latest trends and outline how consumer habits change with the shift of technology. hedgehog lab highlights six trends retailers should consider when looking into retaining and acquiring new customers.


Trend 1 – The online shift and the drift from instore shopping

The hedgehog lab research revealed that more consumers prefer online shopping (52%) over the in-store shopping experience (27%).

A report by GWI (Global Web index) corroborates with this trend, their report demonstrates 3.4 billion people are now connected to the internet and that the internet usage is increasing. A rising online population further demonstrates the huge opportunity facing the retail sector.

Trend 2 – The strong drive behind online sales

The drive behind this shift to online shopping is influenced by product price comparison, reduced effort, instant availability of products and better deals. 79% of the interviewees do generally find better deals online and 71% stated this is less effort than going to a store.

Over 2/3 of respondents accept that they prefer online shopping as it is available anywhere and anytime.

Trend 3 – The era of smartphones and tablets; the gadgets for a promising future

The popularity of mobile gadgets within the digital wave is rising fast, smartphones are playing an increasing role in today’s society. This gadget, which is the preferred gadget for consumer activities, does not only bring customer and product closer together but also facilitates peer group reviews and price comparisons enabling the consumer to ‘seal the deal’ with their chosen retail brand. 76% of the hedgehog interviewees responded that they prefer to use their smartphone on a daily, weekly or monthly basis for online shopping.

Trend 4 – Building better experiences to boost sales

With retail becoming more competitive, the shopping experience itself should be a priority for retailers. Providing an enriching experience for the customer across the sales floor from the moment they enter the shop can be created in many ways. The instore retail experience does heavily rely on the human touch, something that online shops will not be able to contend with.

A personalised experience is often a factor that will be remembered by the client. By focusing on retaining and improving their personal connection, retail stores can retain their customers. 44% of the interviewees say their experience of store staff is just wanting to sell the product and not necessarily being interested in helping them.

Trend 5 – ‘Touch and try’ and ‘immediate product availability’ drive in-store shopping

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 17.02.27The tangible experience drives the in store experience, over 80% said that the immediate product availability and the try and touch experience of the product makes them like the shopping in store.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 17.03.13Trend 6 – The existence of omni channels    

Consumers are at the heart of retailers, engaging with customers through various channels can make the shopping experience more friendly. For instance, if customers can purchase a product through one channel and have the possibility to return it through another channel it will allow the consumer to incorporate shopping in his retail routine. The curiosity of consumers will allow consumers to find out more about brands and products.

Digital platforms leveraging the retail experience

The retail industry will undergo a huge transformation not only through digital but also through many other areas. The notion of simply creating a path to purchase products will not be enough, retailers will have to focus on building strong relationships across different mediums.  hedgehog lab believes that these mediums should be achieved with a multifaceted approach which could enable customers to learn about the products prior to purchase, narrate their experiences on the use of products and also allow them to rate and review their entire purchase and usage journey. The main objectives for retailers should be achieving long term engagement with the customer rather than a one-time sale and building loyalty. Some stores are already improving their relationship through some of these mediums including 1 hour delivery, click and collect, instore devices and apps.

A study by Retail System Research (RSR) in August 2015, revealed that over half of retailers are familiar with the Internet of Things (IOT) and its benefits. 54% of ‘above-average’ profit retailers said that IOT will dramatically change the retail industry in the next 3 years.

In conclusion hedgehog lab’s primary research demonstrates that online shopping is set to continue to increase in popularity. Consumers will have multiple channels via which they can look at and buy products.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 17.05.40

This might challenge some retailers as they have to improve their presence across these multiple channels. With the spread of technology and the world wide web it is often speculated that the high street could die. However, this research shows that this threat can be countered by encouraging customers to interact via in store apps and providing them with an experience that drives them to want to shop in a store environment.

To read the full report please click here.