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March 30 , 2010

Tech-savvy shoppers setting the pace,
retailers must follow their lead--IBM survey

More than 4,000 Canadians polled

A new IBM global survey, including 4,000 Canadians, reveals we are more loyal than most to our primary retailers. The study also revealed technology is giving Canadian shoppers a new source of power, driving an increasing need for retailers to engage them with more personalized promotions and offerings, and reach them via social media rather than relying strictly on traditional marketing.

The survey, which included an additional 28,000 consumers from five other countries, demonstrates the changing economy is giving rise to the smarter consumer– one who uses technology to make more informed buying decisions, exchange information with peers, make purchases on-the-go and shop across multiple channels. Not only are consumers becoming more demanding, but they are also more willing to participate in the shaping and success of brands they like. Sixty-nine per cent of Canadian respondents said they want to work with retailers to co-design new products and provide suggestions on services that better meet their personal needs.

Canadians ranked behind China, India, Brazil and the UK among those who said they would move their purchases away from their primary retailer because of better prices, product selection or customer loyalty programs. Only shoppers in the US were less likely to shift purchases for those reasons.

The study also revealed while shoppers are showing increased demand for multiple technology channels, they want to use different technologies for different activities.

  • 84 per cent want to use websites to access and print coupons
  • 75 per cent want to use mobile phones to find out where the nearest store is located
  • 72 per cent want to see what goods are in stock before going into the store.

“Canadian retailers need more sophisticated analytics of product and customer segmentation, at the household and individual level,” says John Dawkins, IBM’s Canadian retail sector lead. “The reality is most retailers have built a product-centric approach and have challenges when it comes to integrating constantly changing customer profiles though multiple touch points like call centers, kiosks, point of sale, employee interaction, and imobile. In addition, new methods for integrating social media tracking and input are required to manage retailers’ brand experience.”

From the consumers’ eyes, the top areas of improvement for retailers were around delivering customized promotions and access to knowledgeable sales associates. The good news is 54 per cent of respondents said they would spend more with a retailer if they got these two areas right.

When it comes to adopting new technologies to shop or make purchases, Canadians still favour Web sites as the most popular choice, at 48 per cent, while in-store kiosks, TVs and mobile phones ranked 31, nine and four per cent respectively.

However, for those willing to use their TVs for shopping, 51 per cent were willing to use their TV remotes to make a purchase. For those willing to shop by mobile phones, 43 per cent were willing to use texting to make a purchase. Sixteen per cent of respondents said they were likely to “follow’ a retailer on a social network such as Facebook or Twitter.

In Canada, those between the ages of 15 and 30 are the key influencers, as they are the most instrumented, meaning they desire two or more technologies to browse and purchase, are willing to try alternative channels and are likely to “follow” a retailer via social media.

“Retailers must constantly search for new and innovative ways to reach their customers and meet their demands. Building and maintaining customer loyalty is critical in the highly competitive retail market. Incorporating new technologies that enhance a customer’s shopping experience go a long way toward solidifying brand loyalty and increasing sales,” says Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada.

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