There is increasing demand for retailers to provide the benefits of online, in-store, including convenience and safety, with consumers seeking a ‘connected shopping’ environment, according to a new survey by Foresight Factory and Snap.

The survey revealed that four in 10 consumers (40%) and half of Millennials and Gen Z shoppers (50%) say they always use their phone while shopping in store, while more than one quarter of consumers (27%) would specifically visit a store if it had interactive services, allowing them to test and try on items virtually.

The most significant factors that put Australian shoppers off online shopping is not being able to see (49%), touch (47%) and try out (44%) items.

In the coming year, four in 10 consumers (40%) expect Augmented Reality (AR) to be available when shopping, particularly for clothing (20%), beauty (20%), furniture (19%) and luxury items (16%). This could help reduce the number of online items that are returned annually and reduce the value of returned clothes which reached $99.5 million in the last year alone.

Further, 16% of consumers said they were more likely to shop in stores that offered common online features such as instant access to stock information.

Foresight Factory co-founder and CEO, Meabh Quoirin said consumers are demonstrating a clear desire for human interaction that comes with in-person shopping, alongside the convenience and engagement of online shopping.

“Connected shopping should be at the heart of brands’ strategies to drive shoppers back into their stores, as our study shows that when brands embrace technologies they could further strengthen and deepen their connections with consumers.”

Snap general manager for Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Hong Kong, Kathryn Carter added, “Despite physical retail remaining open for much of Australia over the past year, consumers are demanding a mixed retail experience with the benefits of online and in-store shopping. Retailers who meet consumer demands and offer convenience, social interaction, product proximity and personalised experiences will continue to see growth, especially with younger shoppers.”