Australian shoppers have the greatest sense of loyalty to traditional retail store fronts with almost two-thirds (64%) choosing in-store shopping as their preferred method of shopping opposed to online shopping for the next year, the latest annual Shopper Experience Index from Bazaarvoice has shown.

The global report explores how consumer shopping preferences and behaviour are rapidly evolving, largely due to the effects of Covid-19, and how businesses should adapt to these trends.

While Australians still enjoy the benefits of shopping in-store, when it comes to online shopping and product research, they are heavily influenced by user generated content. Out of the eight countries surveyed, Australia is tied with Spain for the least likely (28%) to buy a product without UGC on the product page, indicating that UGC still plays a crucial role in purchase decisions.

Bazaarvoice managing director for Asia Pacific, Kate Musgrove said Australians are uniquely positioned to shop in-store, as the ability to do so is largely impacted by the relatively low prevalence of Covid-19 compared with some other countries surveyed.

“In saying this, our insights revealed UGC is hugely important for Australian shoppers, as viewing UGC online via prior research of products ultimately influences the purchasing decisions of people whilst in store. To accommodate this, retailers should have an omnichannel approach so that their consumers can meet them where they want, when they want, which is aligned with the global findings,” she said.

Another key trend uncovered in the report was the increase in social commerce with one in three shoppers making a purchase on social media in the past year. When broken down by age, that number climbs to 43% of 18-24-year-olds and 47% of 25-34-year-olds.

As this trend is only set to increase, brands need to take what customers share with them on social media and utilise it elsewhere, especially as many can’t or won’t go in-store to see products for themselves. When shopping on a brand or retailer’s website, 42% of shoppers won’t purchase if there isn’t UGC available on the product page they’re on, and nearly half (49%) of shoppers look on product pages for customer photos.

While digital shopping isn’t replacing bricks-and-mortar, it is surpassing it, although most shoppers want a mix. In 2020, online ordering was up 39% year-over-year globally among Bazaarvoice’s client network of over 11,500 brands and retailers. However, shoppers aren’t willing to give up bricks-and-mortar shopping just yet with almost half (49%) of shoppers choosing in-store shopping over buying online for the next year. 

This is driven by the ability to touch, see, and try on products among over half (52%) of shoppers, while 47% say shopping at a store is how they feel most connected to the brands they love. The Bazaarvoice survey found 82% of shoppers like the idea of receiving free samples when ordering online, while 53% are willing to write a review of free products they received, and 28% say they’ll post on social media.