PRESS RELEASE: Retail in 2020: Belgians keep buying offline
Retail in 2020: Belgians keep buying offline - Wim Hamaekers - shopping experience - communication
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - PRESS RELEASE: Retail in 2020: Belgians keep buying offline
Retail in 2020: Belgians keep buying offline
Leuven, May 20 2014- The average Belgian does not rush for online shopping.
Even in 2020, we will only do 14% of our shopping online, with Generation Y
leading the field. That, and other surprising news, was revealed by haystack’s
large-scale on- and offline research.
Market and consumer research company haystack conducted in-depth research – in
collaboration with GMI – into the Belgians’ shopping attitude, and their behaviour in a
changing shopper reality. Despite the gloomy outlook on traditional retail, there is still
hope – on condition that retailers adapt their business strategy to satisfy the new
The numbers speak volumes: today, we only do 9% of our shopping online. Popular
categories include travelling, books, music and technology; and also beauty and skincare
products, electronics and food. By the year 2020, online shopping will rise to 14%, lead
by categories such as home and garden supplies, and decoration. The relatively small
increase can be explained by the importance we attach to sensory aspects during in-
person shopping, as well as the interaction with staff and the shopping experience itself.
Online shops, however, focus primarily on price, easy comparisons and access to a wide
range of products.
Shopping is not a rational process. Customers’ decisions are largely unconscious and
driven by emotions. And although our environment changes – demographically,
culturally, technologically, … – why we shop and what guides our decisions remains
largely emotional. That explains why brick-and-mortar stores still appeal to shoppers,
even though they do some ‘web-rooming’ as well: digital engagement leads to sales in
physical stores. Have retail stores nothing to fear? Alas, retailers flirt with disaster unless
they reposition their business to serve the new breed of buyer. The keys to stay ahead: a
unique shopping experience, great service and flexible opening hours – including on
Need for relevancy and one-to-one communication
Relevancy is the new currency for all shops – physical and virtual. If we all target the
same people with similar messages and promotions, shoppers are overwhelmed by the
dizzying array of options. The solution: brand relevancy and positioning. Research shows
that some 30 % of shoppers – mostly Generation Y – are prepared to share personal
data in exchange for one-to-one and relevant communication. Only a minority is willing
to do so, because consumers are worried about privacy issues. They fear that retailers
and manufacturers will keep on pushing their offering. And that shopping will become
less inspirational and predominantly promotional.
Technology-assisted shopping also needs to be relevant. It can only be successful if it
satisfies a real shopper need. Which explains why virtual fitting rooms will probably
remain gimmicks: they’re nice, but people prefer to feel, touch and try on clothes.
Transparency and consistency across all channels
Shoppers that experience poor quality or service will share their discontent with the rest
of the world on social media – hence the importance of transparency. Retailers that offer
an enjoyable experience across all channels (omni-channel) can prosper, especially if
they are responsive to fast deliveries, 24/7 availability and easy return policies. If you
manage all of that, you most likely have a bright future ahead of you.
haystack is as international market and consumer research company with head offices in
Leuven (Belgium). It offers reality-driven scientific research to manufacturers and
retailers, in the field of product development and improvement, sensory studies,
consumer behaviour and branding.
More research results.
For questions about the study, contact Wim Hamaekers, managing partner haystack
International, +32 16 62 11 12 / +32 498 46 06 72. Check the website at