EDITORIAL All shoppers are online and they are all ready for the metaverse

There is no such thing as online shoppers. No, they haven’t all decided to go back to physical retail, it’s just that the vast majority of consumers are now using online as part of their shopping habits, rendering the term obsolete. We are all online shoppers.

Research out this week suggests that 99% of consumers in the UK regularly shop online – 98% having also purchased from social media – pointing to how retail is now a very different beast to what it was even five years ago.

What is interesting too is that the spread of online shoppers now stretches right across all demographics. Separate research says that 76% of over 65s – typically the least ‘online’ in previous years – now rely on online shopping. At the other end of the spectrum, a third study shows that millennials are all about online too. We are, indeed, all online shoppers.

However, not all online shoppers are created equal and this is now the challenge facing retailers: how to ‘personalise’ the experience, the marketing, the customer service and even the payment methods to a highly varied range of tastes.

Millennials for example see themselves as good with money, always looking for a deal, but often quite impulsive in making buying decisions. Many of the decisions they make are around self-development or improvement.

The over 65s, meanwhile, are way more digital and tech-savvy than anyone gives them credit for, only they don’t necessarily want to talk to chatbots, preferring to pick up the phone to talk to a person if they need help or advice .

Understanding these two extremes – along with all that lies between – is what personalization in retail now needs to embrace. It also needs to take on a new drive among all consumers for retail that is led by experience. Research shows that 98% of shoppers say they would buy something based on experience versus price.

But what does this look like? For the over 65s it means better ways to communicate, bringing in real people at the end of the telephone. For Millennials it is about deals and loyalty. But for everyone it seems to be the beginnings of a real interest in augmented and virtual reality and, dare I say it, the metaverse.

It seems that while industry struggles to really define what the metaverse is or might be – and how they can leverage it to make money – consumers of all ages seem to be much more up for the idea of ​​a more engaging and fun way to interact with the internet.

100% of people quizzed in a recent survey had heard of the metaverse. 31% said that they would definitely use it – even though a third had no real idea what it was.

The world is now ripe for the next phase of the web. We are all online shoppers and now we want that experience to be very different to just a flat, boring website, we all want interaction and fun, we want to marvel at being ‘in’ the internet.

With the cost of living and other pressures facing retailers with a difficult winter, it is perhaps time to look at how we can make retail different and more enticing for all. Consumers are ready, are you?

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