Bricks and Mortar Retail still has a vital role to play for brands

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In Africa majority still prefer shopping in-store as opposed to buying goods online, PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey released last week says. In Africa majority still prefer shopping in-store as opposed to buying goods online, PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey released last week says.

While the digital age has encouraged more consumers to shop and browse products on the web, physical stores are still primary destinations for shoppers in Africa, according to PwC's annual consumer survey.

Based on an online survey of more than 19, 000 respondents globally, of which about 1000 were from South Africa, the report discloses that the physical store remains the retail touch point with the highest frequency, driving retailers to transform in-store experiences with differentiated storefronts that turn stores into ultimate shopping destinations.

Only 14% of South African online shoppers say they shop online weekly or more frequently. Preserving the strength of the traditional store, 53% of local survey respondents say they have intentionally browsed products at a store but decided to buy them online. At the same time, 73% say they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in-store.

John Wilkinson, PwC SA’s retail and consumer leader, says developing a socially connected, digital retailing space is imperative for retailers given the relative youth of SA’s population. This should be a place where not only products are sold, but where the customer receives a memorable experience as well.

“For the past several years, the story about retail stores was showrooming, in which stores were places to display items for online purchase,” Mr Wilkinson said.

“However, this year’s survey results show that the online shop has also become a showroom where shoppers research and compare prices for later in-store purchases.”

Mr Price, whose core market comprises 16-24-year-olds, is seeing online traffic significantly driving offline sales, with a large growth in market share since launching its online store.

The spending capacity of older consumers is also strong in the emerging economies.

“Interestingly, most of our customers under age 24 are just browsers,” Mr Price says. “The vast amount of transactions are people above that age group, they’re the ones with the money.

“So the data tells us that the younger generation is made up of browsers and the older generations are transacting.”

Similarly, Italtile’s web platform is gaining traction, with customers obtaining quotes on the website and then going into the store for the actual sale. According to the tile and bathrooms specialist’s chief financial officer Brandon Wood, shoppers were also doing product research in store and then ordering through its CTM brand’s online shop.

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Retail Property  |  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

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