Hybrid buyers: the trend that changes everything
In the retail world, all these months of constant change, adaptation and uncertainty have accelerated hybrid or omnichannel consumer trends, which were already very much a thing, but have now become even more widespread. Hybrid shoppers are those who indiscriminately use all the channels and resources the industry offers to make their purchases: traditional physical stores, e-commerce and online shopping services with in-store collection.
A study carried out by DS Smith (the British multinational packaging company) found that Spaniards make on average six purchases from physical stores each month, three purchases online and two purchases with collection in store (click and collect). And click and collect is growing across Europe, although the shopping experience needs to be improved a lot as 60% of people believe that it brings together the worst of the digital and physical shopping experience.
A large proportion of Spaniards still prefer shopping in physical stores and will continue to shop there once the pandemic has passed because they miss the experience of shopping, and also because of the undeniably social side of shopping in physical outlets. The big challenge now facing brands and indeed the entire retail sector is to improve the online shopping experience, and above all the click and collect experience, whether by adding experiences, making systems more agile, paying attention to the packaging or product presentation, etc.
In terms of generational impact, the rise in digital consumers during the pandemic has been driven mainly by two main segments of society: firstly, young people, who were already the biggest e-commerce users and have become even more so following the pandemic; and secondly the over-40s, who used to buy very little, if anything, online but who, during the successive lockdowns, ventured into the system and liked the experience enough to continue with it after the restrictions were lifted.
Because the fact is we are heading towards a near future where shoppers will not choose one shopping system, but will use all of them, combining them according to taste, interest and convenience. And if they have a bad experience with a particular brand in one channel, they will look for an alternative brand. Ideally a brand will manage to achieve customer satisfaction regardless of the channel through which they buy its products.