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The future of shopping for tech

You’ve heard of hybrid working, but what about hybrid shopping?

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There’s no doubt about it: the pandemic, closure of physical stores and business spaces, working from home, and eventually hybrid working have caused a seismic shift in the way we engage with tech. 68% of consumers we polled in a recent study say they depend on technology day-to-day, spending eight hours daily, using 11 different pieces of tech. The line between the digital and physical world is becoming ever more indistinguishable, and the ways we work, socialise, play, interact, and even shop, are set to change forever.

The integration of tech and the introduction of omni-channel experiences will transform the way we shop for all kinds of goods and services. This is particularly true in the case of tech retail. In a world of fake online product reviews and high return rates, connecting shoppers with the right expert advice, whether they’re shopping in-store or online, is the future.

We recently commissioned a report, in partnership with The Future Laboratory, to better understand conscious commerce, consumer attitudes and the tech shopping journey of the future. Here’s what we’ve learned:

Buying tech right now

As it stands, over 67% of millennials prefer to shop online compared to in-store, and online retail continues to grow. There are a number of reasons why online shopping has grown in the past 20 years, but most shoppers cite a simpler, more convenient process and a wider choice of products. However, even the face of online retail has changed in that time.

Targeted ads, fake ads, fake reviews, fake endorsements, confusing chat bots and the influence of algorithms can all point you in the direction of products that really aren’t the best choice for you. It’s an increasingly confusing world to navigate, and many argue it’s time to overhaul and simplify the customer journey. We agree.

In making their shopping journey more convenient for customers, many retailers have almost completely removed that bespoke, expert advice from their journey. While some shoppers may not need help making their decision, others may need pointing in the right direction, particularly when it comes to tech.

Our own research shows that in the past 10 years, consumers bought an average of six items unassisted, that didn’t do what they thought it would, spending around £650 in the process. For shoppers aged 18-34, that number doubles. Of those that mistakenly buy the wrong product, 40% return it while 15% keep it and struggle to use it. Suddenly it’s a lot less convenient!

Add to that the “bot backlash”. Only 13% of tech consumers prefer talking to a chat bot when they’re making their mind up on a new purchase, and just a quarter find them helpful when the time comes to decide. However, while bots are struggling to occupy the online retail space that would be occupied by expert assistants in a store environment, there are brilliant opportunities to add that human element into the online journey…

Buying tech in the future

To create a truly smooth customer experience, connecting customers with the expert advice they need and the tech they’re looking for, the journey from browsing to buying must be completely rethought. And that starts with real people, and real emotional intelligence.

Over 50% of customers believe that too many options make it tricky to buy a new device, while 77% would choose to speak to a real-life advisor if it helped them find that winning product faster. Where a simple search for ‘laptop’ on a retail site can generate hundreds of results, an expert assistant can listen and understand what the consumer needs. That means they can help narrow down those options to a handful of products that won’t disappoint, won’t end with a stressful returns process, and won’t end in a ‘making do’ scenario for the customer.

At Currys, we think customers should be able to access that expertise, whether they’re shopping in-store or online. That’s why we created ShopLive two years ago. This platform lets customers connect with a Currys tech expert via their screen and get real, tailored advice on the best product for them. So far, it’s been used by over 3 million customers, and research shows that this integration of human expertise with the simplicity of online is an effective solution to the problems faced by tech consumers and retailers today.

The future of shopping, particularly within technology, firmly lies in omni-channel solutions. Customers deserve a positive, hassle-free experience however they choose to shop, be it online or in-store, in person. Whichever you choose, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice that useful advice for online simplicity, or vice-versa.

Achieving this starts with fantastic, expert sales associates. Trained with human intelligence, emotional intelligence and AI insights in mind, these shop assistants are ‘genuinfluencers’. They don’t just point the customer to any product to fulfil a sale – they point them to a product because it ticks all the boxes, and is ultimately the best choice for that person. That means fewer returns, as well as further expert advice on recycling and restoring older tech. This fits perfectly with the tech shoppers of the future, and the growing desire to shop consciously and sustainably.

How shoppers connect will continue to evolve. After all, who really knows what the future holds? However, one thing that won’t change is the reasons why shoppers decide to connect. A seamless experience, in store and online, helped along the way by a friendly person who clearly knows what they’re talking about. Those are the key ingredients in finding tech you’ll be happy with for years to come.

Having trouble choosing new tech?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Try our online video chat ShopLive to receive expert advice from the comfort of your home. You can ask our tech experts anything, they are always ready to help!

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