There seems to be a renewed focus by some of Europe’s retailers on the in-store experience. In the UK, Tesco is revamping stores instead of developing new ones. Across the Channel in France, Casino is providing customers with an app that helps them track the cost of their shopping as they go. Shoppers download the app to their phone and pick up a ‘sleeve’ in store that, once over the phone, turns it into a NFC (Near Field Communication) device that can be used to scan products into a basket as they shop.  

Such investment in refurbishment and innovative use of technology to, ultimately, make shopping easier should be applauded. These retailers recognise the importance of making shopping faster, easier and cheaper for shoppers across Europe.

In fact these are key goals for shoppers in Europe according to our European Shopper survey, Shopping in Tough Times, which analysed the behaviour and attitudes of more than 26,000 shoppers in nine European countries at the end of last year.  

These shopping requirements have become so important that more than a third of shoppers said they changed stores to get them. Three quarters of shoppers in that survey said the shopping experience was the key driver of their choice of retailer. Sixty-three per cent said that assortment was important in their choice of store demonstrating that shoppers are looking keenly at what products and brands are available. They want shopping to be easy and fast and they want to buy all of their favourite brands and products in the same place. 

With store experience so important to shoppers, food manufacturers as well as retailers will need to renew their online and in-store customer experience strategies. Visibility in both channels is key. Manufacturers need to think about where they are positioned in the store (and online) as well as how easy it is to navigate the store. Retailers need to think about their product and brand assortment – have they got the right mix of products at the right price? Old tactics of trying to get shoppers to spend more time in store are not necessarily appropriate today.

Price remains important to shoppers as well. Some 80% say finding products at the right price or on promotion is the reason why they shop in a certain store. 

However you can no longer define shoppers by whether they are poor or wealthy. All shoppers are looking for the best value mix of price and quality. Our survey says 73% of all shoppers across Europe are avoiding non-essential purchases. Half declare they will go shopping less frequently and 62% will spend less on each trip. This combination of behaviours is a further step in the shopper’s budget control strategy: what’s actually happening is that shoppers are spending less at each shopping trip, but they have increased their visiting frequency because a more gradual cut in the level of consumption means they have to go back to stores to top up. However we expect shoppers will shop less frequently as they start to see the impact of their trading down and rationalisation. 

Traditional marketing tactics such as paper leaflets in store still play a key role in many countries. Across Europe 69% of shoppers say they are a leading source of information but only 20% in the UK do this frequently. In the UK more shoppers use the Internet to find coupons or compare prices but across Europe searching for information online through price comparison websites has become an integral part of shopping preparation on the path to purchase. Only a third of shoppers across Europe visit brands websites or consumer review websites though. 

Time poor and cost conscious shoppers may be paying more attention to price and promotions but they are still influenced by store layout and assortment. Retailers and brands alike may want to take the pedal off their price focused strategies – while important price isn’t the only driver of shopper loyalty. They should redirect some of their focus back to solutions that give shoppers the right mix of value with their favourite products at the same time as making it easier and faster for them to shop.