Picture this: You have twins and their fifth birthday party is around the corner. Planning this party has become quite stressful because, unfortunately, their tastes are different. One prefers to have a Batman themed party while the other wants to deck the halls and tables with Superman goods. How do you combine the two?
Many retailers are scrambling to figure out the answer to this question as they try to satisfy both their online and offline customers. This type of customer is known as the ‘hybrid consumer’, and they enjoy the best of both worlds – shopping online and offline.
E-commerce is rapidly rising in South Africa, with a new PwC survey reporting that only 15% of South African respondents have never bought anything online. To get a grip on hybrid consumers, you need to understand their buying habits.
Why do South Africans buy online? According to PwC’s Total Retail Global Report, 57% of South African respondents bought goods online in the last 12 months because it was convenient. A further 30% purchased goods online because it was cheaper.
However, we have not seen the demise of ‘offline shopping’ and it still plays a critical role in the customer’s purchase journey. Some consumers log online to research their purchases before going in-store to purchase. This is called ‘web-rooming’, and is common consumer behaviour in South Africa. ‘Show-rooming’ is when people go to the store, compare prices and then make their purchases online.
Satisfying a hybrid customer is like managing two companies at the same time – basically, you’re running a virtual store and a physical one. Trend commentators and experts say that South Africa is beginning to see the rise of hybrid consumers, and their shopping methods will continue to exist for a while.
So how do you cater to these consumers? Connectivity on the most basic level – we’re talking social media and website specials. Retail giants Woolworths and Pick n Pay are good examples of stores who have a strong online and offline presence, offering the same level of service online as they would in-store.
You can do almost anything with your cell phone and if you’re busy with grocery shopping, you may have whipped out your phone to research a product. A great way to integrate hybrid users is to use a loyalty/reward programme, allowing a customer to access a coupon or promotional code via their device. They’ll be in your store but accessing your online platform to make use of discounts.
While it may look challenging, there is a way to bridge the gap between your online and offline customers, making it a profitable experience for all.
Make sure you have the best software and hardware option to help make your business run efficiently. Contact your local retail systems experts to help your business grow.