How the birth of the fusion shopper could change the high street forever

Experts at DS Smith say that COVID-19 restrictions have caused an evolution in consumer behaviour leading to the birth of a brand-new type of consumer – the fusion shopper. They are splitting their time across bricks and mortar, online, and click & collect – leaving retailers and brands under huge pressure to keep up.

The view is backed up by new research which shows that in an average month Brits shop in store five times, online four times and use click and collect twice and the latter is growing fast. Two fifths (42%) of people are more likely to have used click & collect services during the pandemic. However, whilst Brits are shifting their shopping habits, experts also warn that their experience hasn’t always been smooth. Indeed, less than one in three (29%) said that online shopping was their preferred shopping method and 49% describe click & collect as “the worst of both worlds”.

To help brands adapt to the new retail environment, DS Smith has teamed up with behavioural Scientist, Professor Ivo Vlaev, from the University of Warwick Business School, who commented, “People’s expectations of brands haven’t changed, yet as we shift to a blended model of shopping retailers who want to keep brand loyalty need to ensure that no-matter how someone is shopping that they keep the same experience. For both click and collect and online shopping, packaging can be a way of elevating that experience. For example, box designs can help with frictionless payment in store and click & collect can be improved with boxes creating smart personalised IDs making collection easier, quicker and even more personalised.”

Stefano Rossi, Packaging CEO at DS Smith, said, “Today’s consumers aren’t choosing one way of shopping, they’re blending them all – as fusion shoppers. However, what’s clear is shoppers aren’t getting a consistently good experience across these options – which is a real risk for brands and retailers as consumers may look to go elsewhere if they can’t maintain consistent standards. Brands now need to find a way to seamlessly blend their range of offers so consumers are happy however they choose to shop. Packaging is one of the ways they can do this and our experts have been working to produce clever and innovative solutions that solve some of the key frustrations with different types of shopping and make for a better experience across the piece.”

While in-store shopping still remains Brit’s current preferred method it’s clear it is not without its frustrations and the pandemic has taken its toll on our patience and willingness to be in crowded spaces.

  • 46% of shoppers don’t like being in crowded stores;
  • Two fifths (40%) of people are irritated by long queues;
  • Over a third of people are not willing to wait longer than five minutes in a store queue;
  • More than two in five (43%) find online shopping less stressful.

The research also showed that the key issues with click & collect for consumers include the hassle of travelling to a shop to pick up the item (21%), having to wait to collect the product (19%) and doubts about the quality of the item (19%). For online shopping, the frustrations include having to pay for their deliveries (42%), not knowing when items will arrive (28%) and bad packaging meaning that their purchase is damaged on arrival (20%).

To combat these host of frustrations DS Smith’s innovation team and Professor Vlaev have conceptualised future packaging that could help retailers and brands jumpstart their blended offerings. For example, smart labels or QR codes on packaging which can be simply scanned with a smartphone camera. This would eliminate the need for queuing for purchases, as consumers could scan their items themselves and pay online.

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