Consumer Business

How digital devices impact shopping behaviour

Deloitte surveyed over 2000 consumers in nine different markets (the United States, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Canada, Australia, China, and India), resulting in millions of comparative points of data. The quest? To explore how their use of digital devices impacts their shopping behaviour.

What began as a simple exercise has led us to conclude that digital influences consumer behaviour across all countries evaluated, but the detail behind this influence varies based on country and by micro-characteristics within the market. We also found that retailers are underestimating – or at least under-delivering on – the consumer’s evolving desire and ability to incorporate digital into their in-store shopping journeys.

Three major trends from the survey findings: 

  1. There is no single path toward digital adoption – While all countries studied are heading in the direction of increased technology adoption, the progression sometimes moves at a different pace or follows a different route, depending on the country. In some cases, emerging markets may skip adoption stages experienced previously by developed markets.
  1. One digital “size” does not fit all consumers – Even within the context of a specific market, digital behaviour varies based on personal context – who the consumer is, what stage they are in the shopping process, and what they are looking to buy. In addition, categories matter, as consumers use digital tools differently based on product type.
  1. Consumers are demanding different digital tools and features to execute their own shopping journeys – Consumers are using digital to make decisions and plan their spending in ways beyond the control of retailers. The use of third-party social media, for example, has an impact on shopping and buying decisions. Simply creating a proprietary app is unlikely to reshape or contain consumer behavior.

Developing versus mature markets

  • Developing countries are often times broadly assumed to be slowly following in the footsteps of more developed markets, gradually catching up to the digital innovations and consumer behavior of the developed world.
  • While developing nations have lower rates of digital adoption overall, our consumer survey results in developing countries actually suggested a higher prevalence of digital usage in stores.
  • Chinese consumers are highly influenced by social media when they shop, with 36 percent of connected consumers using social during the browse/research phase and 50 percent using social media to get validation for purchases from their personal networks.
  • Worldwide, consumers are still in the early stages of embracing the concept of “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPUS). The data on usage patterns implies that this shopping approach will become more popular, with more options, over time.

Download the full comprehensive Navigating the new digital divide report here to receive more insights about the influence of digital in the retail world.

We’d be delighted to discuss any of the findings from this publication in more detail.
We welcome your feedback and thoughts.

Dylan Piatti
Africa Consumer & Industrial Products Chief of Staff
Tel: +27 11 806 6522

About the author

Deloitte South Africa

Deloitte is one of the country's leading professional services firms in Southern Africa, and is dedicated to assisting companies succeed in the business environment- whether it be through our tax, audit, consulting or financial advisory services.

At Deloitte, we understand that solutions are not just a static one dimensional report, but rather, an integrated and innovative answer that helps our clients to better understand key complex industry issues. Not only do our solutions assist our clients in making strategic business decisions, but our unique approach also allows companies to succeed in a competitive business environment by staying ahead of industry trends. Through the collective expertise of nearly 3600 people in 8 cities in South Africa and in 16 cities in Southern Africa, and as a member firm of the global organisation Deloitte Touche Tohmats, we have access to deep insightful and intellectual capital of more than 150 000 people worldwide.

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