Eight in 10 (80%) Australians are now more discerning and selective in their purchasing decisions compared with 12 months ago, according to new research from Manhattan Associates.  

Inflation and interest rate rises are causing some shoppers to stop spending altogether, with one-third (33%) saying they hold off or defer purchases until sales or special deals, and a little over half (51%) even admitting they hold off or defer purchases indefinitely.

The research also revealed that 85% of Australian shoppers are researching products more thoroughly prior to making a purchase compared to previous years, with around 62% revealing they actively choose to buy cheaper or discounted products.

Manhattan Associates managing director, Raghav Sibal said, “Australian consumers are facing economic challenges, which is no surprise, but the fact that shoppers are increasingly hesitant to part with their money creates headaches for retailers looking to convert sales. In an environment where consumers have no concerns about walking away from a sale if their expectations are not met, retailers have no margin error.

“While Australian consumers are willing to put in the work to find the best value, or wait for the best deal, they aren’t solely motivated by price. Consumers have developed heightened expectations, demanding a seamless, convenient shopping experience that delivers great customer service. Today shoppers will respond to a negative retail experience by exercising their power to walk away from a purchase altogether.”

Over 90% of consumers said that their in-store customer service experience was a key contributing factor when making a purchase. In fact, over 80% of participants admitted that over the course of this year, they have abandoned a purchase because of poor customer service. Additionally, 40% of people admitted that budget constraints have made them more sensitive to negative experiences.

When exploring the primary factors influencing abandoned sales, the dominant factors for shoppers were the unavailability of products/sizes (30%) sales associates lacking sufficient product knowledge (17%), negative online product reviews (17%), and limited delivery options, including returns (7%).

“In order to avoid negative in-store and online shopping experiences that can cause a consumer to abandon a potential sale, retailers need to ensure that they have the right systems and technologies in place. To guarantee seamless online delivery and returns processes, as well as provide increased purchasing flexibility that allows access to stock and items for sale on other websites, retailers require systems that enable in-store purchases using inventory from other stores or the warehouse,” Sibal added.

“Through unifying order management, customer engagement, point of sale and store inventory and fulfilment technologies – retailers will empower their store associates, allowing them to personalise selling, proactively solve problems and make every customer experience exceptional in a selling environment challenged by cost-of-living pressures.”