PWC Total Retail 2016

Shoppers around the world are being disruptive - how can you leverage their actions?

Consumers are pushing the boundaries of shopping, displaying behaviours that are revolutionising the retail world as we now know it, says PWC in its latest survey.

The  2016 Total Retail report presents the findings of 23,000 online shoppers across 5 continents and 25 territories.

We've summarised the valuable messages in the PWC report, together with some of our thoughts on how Infinity can assist in meeting these exciting times in retail.

1. All eyes on China

Retail in China is ahead of the times, with the trends there a strong indication of where retail is heading globally, says PWC.

The consumers there are seasoned early adopters of technology; 65% use their mobile device to make a purchase at least once a month, compared with 28% of consumers globally.  In 2012, 4.3% of people in China shopped online at least once a day, jumping to 19.6% in 2015. In comparison, respective rates in the rest of the world were 2.9% and 7.1% - so global shoppers have some catching up to do.

Personalised shopping is also making huge strides in China, with big players such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent analysing customer data to tailor shopping experiences based on income level, location, and purchasing habits.

Mobile Shopping in China vs World


At least once a month 65% of shoppers in China use a mobile device to make a purchase compared with 28% globally

Infinity RMS
With Infinity Loyalty you have a 360 degree view of your customers across all channels, so you can consistently offer them exceptional service, relevant offers and personalised experiences.

2. Price matters

Of importance is the perceived 'value' of the purchase, including factors such as convenience and trust.  However, across income bands and country borders affordability is still a major influencer in retail. Increasingly, consumers are also willing to purchase from outside their own country if they find a better deal offshore.

Price driven customers


60% of consumers shop at their favourite retailer because their prices are good

Infinity RMS
Demand forecasting, analytics, and inventory management enable you to optimize your range, increase stock turn and reduce inventory cost. Infinity facilitates the tight control of costs, giving you the ability to offer the best price, passing savings on to your customers.

3. Changing channels

Maximum conversion is the key message for retailers, no matter what channel a customer travels through to make a purchase.

Despite a global decrease in foot traffic in physical stores and an increase in online shopping, the PWC survey shows that consumers still value bricks and mortar stores.

Researching online and purchasing in physical stores is the big trend for some categories, especially the consumer electronics and computers, household appliances, and clothing and footwear.

"The physical store is still operating from a position of strength, even as foot traffic slows”

The challenge for retailers is to convert in-store visitors into customers, says PWC. The global sample recommends that in-store experiences are made engaging and memorable, with 40% suggesting salespeople with deep knowledge of the product range, ease of checkout (35%), ability to check online stock quickly (32%), inviting ambience (23%) and in-store WiFi (22%) are all areas which make a shopping experience better.

Infinity RMS
A transaction is the result of a consumer’s ability to find, research and locate products successfully. Infinity recognises the role each channel plays in every sale, with physical, online, and mobile deployments optimised for conversion as well as providing the information required to drive traffic between them.

In-store, Infinity supplies the sales associate with all the information they need to impress the customer with a memorable experience.

4. The return of the service ‘X factor’ 

Retail ‘talent’ can be a source of differentiation between bricks and mortar stores, and it’s an asset highly valued by consumers. PWC found that 40% of consumers said that sales associated with deep product range knowledge would make their in-store shopping experience better, followed by ease of checkout at 35% and ability for the sales associate to find check other store and online stock efficiently.

Employees with know-how and can-do still matter and make all the difference to the in-store customer experience.

In Depth Knowledge

40% of shoppers say that sales associated with deep product knowledge would improve the in-store experience

Infinity POS Solutions
Providing the right information at the right time is key to supporting your talent deliver a superior experience. With Infinity, elements such as store dashboards, inventory look-ups and customer history are presented clearly and efficiently, so sales associates can react promptly to customer requests. Simple and fast POS enables the focus to be on the customer, rather than the mechanics of processing the transaction.

5. The meteoric rise of mobile

In-store mobile purchasing

Mobile phones are now considered a purchasing tool, rather than just a device with which to conduct pre-purchase research. In the PWC sample, 20% of shoppers are making in-store purchase on their mobile device, an increase of 8% compared to 2015. Buying products by mobile happens at least a few times each year in 46% of shoppers, with 28% purchasing a least once per month.

Purchasing rates with a mobile device are even higher in emerging markets, compared with those more established markets where bricks and mortar shopping is more the norm. In emerging markets, 35% of shoppers made purchases via their mobile at least once a month, compared with 22% of shoppers in the established markets.

By 2019 almost 80% of the sample will be shopping using their mobile phone for a portion of their purchases

Infinity POS Software
The ‘small screen first’ design of an Infinity Webstore ensures a highly transactional platform without compromising a mobile device’s primary use as a pre- and post-purchase information tool.

6. Connecting to community via membership

Consumers are looking for deeper connections with retailers, with exclusivity, customisation, and membership featuring high in their list of wants. Yet the PWC sample shows that the top three loyalty benefits offered to customers are member-only discounts (70% of responses), reward points (61%) and free shipping (58%).


91% of global shoppers belong to a loyalty programme

PWC says there is a real opportunity to be innovative and provide customers with a sense of community through loyalty programmes. Looking to China as a leading example, loyalty benefits there are more inclined to special member events and personalized marketing offers, than its global counterparts.

Retail Solutions
Understanding customers at a segmented or granular level is necessary to develop relevant and compelling programmes that resonate. Infinity Loyalty supports points, rewards and recognition, price or currency-led programmes or more experience based ones.  It supports tiered programmes to target the highest value or potential value consumers, or offer additional benefits to those prepared to pay to join a membership scheme.

7. Social media gains respect

Social media is gaining momentum, with 78% of the global sample saying their purchasing decisions are influenced by social media in some way. This figure has increased from 68% in the previous study. Interactions with social media also tend to leave a positive impression, with 43% of the global sample saying that they had more respect for a brand following an interaction online.

Purchases direct from social channels


78% of global shoppers are influenced by social media.

For the first time, PWC noted a significant increase in shoppers purchasing directly via social media. This new channel saw 16% of shoppers buying products this way, an increase of 9% from 2014. Yet there is a huge difference depending on geographic location – 51% of shoppers in Thailand purchased via a social media channel, compared with just 4%, 5% and 6% in Belgium, Denmark, and Canada, respectively.

8. Invitation to innovate

Over 60% of consumers consider their favourite retailers as innovative, says PWC, which shows they’re on the right track. Yet there is plenty of room for improvement, with just 17% of the sample saying their favourite retailer is a ‘leading innovator’ across categories such as online presence, sustainability, stock availability, delivery, loyalty, technology and in-store layout and experience.

Total Retail Solutions
Infinity helps you keep pace with the fast changing consumer trends and behaviours of the retailing world with releases of new features and innovations up to three times each year.

PWC, Total Retail Survey, 2016

“Consumers are now demanding innovation - technological innovation in particular - as they insist on a seamless, integrated omnichannel experience that enables them to shop from anywhere via their mobile phone, tablet, PC or wearable device, in addition to traditional brick-and mortar stores.”