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Public increasingly expecting AR tests and try-on in retail after e-commerce boom

The future of Britain’s battered high streets rests on connected shopping

Distressed high streets up and down the country must turn to ‘connected shopping’ experiences harnessing mobile-friendly technologies if they are to survive and thrive, according to a global survey of 20,000 consumers commissioned by Snap and conducted by Foresight Factory.

The report found that 40% of UK consumers use their mobile while browsing in-store to cross-check pricing. The report posits that augmented reality will play an ever-increasing role in this habit in the years ahead.

The rise of connected shopping

  • Britain’s high streets have been devastated as shoppers have been forced online, but respondents expressed a willingness to return to bricks-and-mortar outlets for the in-store experience.

  • The extent of this rebound is predicated on a willingness among retailers to embrace mobile technologies to blend the benefits of online with the experience of in-store shopping.

  • 30% of UK consumers said that they would go out of their way to visit a store if it employed interactive services to try on items virtually, while 19% professed themselves more willing to shop in stores that provided real-time stock information or a home delivery service.

  • Meabh Quoirin, chief exec and co-owner of Foresight Factory, said: “‘Connected shopping’ should be at the heart of brands’ strategies to drive shoppers back into their stores, as our study shows that when brands embrace technologies, both in-store and online, they could further strengthen and deepen their connections with consumers.”

A nation of online shopaholics

  • Britain stood apart in the report for the depths of its embrace of online, with 44% expecting to conduct the majority of their clothes shopping remotely over the next 12 months – far above the 38% global figure.

  • The unwillingness to hit the high street is reflected in the fact that just 34% of UK respondents cited in-store as their purchase method of choice, again diverging from the global picture where the figure stood at 43%.

  • It’s not all doom and gloom, however, with 49% missing the social aspect of shopping, indicating that there is significant pent-up demand, while 51% lament the inability to try before you buy.

  • Ed Couchman, general manager, UK, Nordics and DACH, Snap Inc, added: “For a long time, people thought the internet and technology was a threat to physical retail, but this report clearly shows that those who harness the benefits of tech are best placed to thrive post-pandemic.”

The shape of things to come

  • While high streets are set to recover some ground, e-commerce is going nowhere with 22% of UK shoppers expecting to increase online purchases over the coming 12 months, with 59% holding steady.

  • The use of augmented reality is set to explode, with an 80% increase in the number of people born between 1995 and 2010 expected to use the technology over the next five years.

  • New technology will also carry benefits for online retailers, specifically by reducing the volume of returns by up to 42%, significantly reducing costs of as much as $7.5bn for e-commerce firms.

  • The circular economy is also expected to gain traction, with 46% of UK shoppers turning to a resale platform with a fifth citing environmental concerns as a motivating factor.

Methodology

  • Commissioned by camera company Snap, the report asked consumer trends agency Foresight Factory to quiz 20,000 consumers across 12 key markets on their shopping habits.

  • They found that Britons were more inclined to shop online over the coming year than their counterparts in the US, France or Japan, with the proportion shopping online for clothing higher than almost any other nation.

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