Despite e-commerce, consumers in Asia still prefer online retailers with physical stores: poll

DESPITE the proliferation of e-commerce, a number of consumers still prefer online retailers with physical stores, although they may also have higher expectations of how they want to be served in stores. 

That's according to the latest shopper study by Zebra Technologies, a maker of automatic identification and data capture products, which surveyed 1,000 respondents - including shoppers and retail executives - in Asia. 

It found that nearly 58 per cent of shoppers in Asia still prefer to shop with online retailers that also have brick-and-mortar outlets. This is also observed across generations, with 73 per cent of millennials and 57 per cent of Gen X shoppers having that preference. 

Only 34 per cent of baby boomers had that preference, however. Zebra did not break down the demographics of its respondents. 

“Brick-and-mortar stores in South-east Asia have not only withstood the digitalisation of retail, they have also become more influential in shoppers’ purchasing decisions,” said Lim Fang-How, the company's regional director for South-east Asia. 

That said, consumers may also bring their expectations built online into stores.

For instance, shoppers now expect store associates to have "as much, if not more, knowledge and technology available to them", said Zebra in its survey. This comes as some 54 per cent of shoppers said they have better access to information than sales staff. 

About 62 per cent of respondents said they would have better experiences when store associates use the "latest technology". Some 59 per cent of consumers also said they want sales associates to find the latest information for them. 

"To elevate the shopper experience and keep customers coming back, retailers need to deliver on the most basic needs, while also taking care to build innovation into the core of their business," the study concluded.