‘Shopping on the edge,’ and other insights from Salesforce

Brands are increasingly moving beyond traditional stores and e-commerce channels to meet shoppers at the very edge of retail shopping spheres, a practice dubbed “shopping on the edge” in a new study from Salesforce.

“The days of merely pulling consumers into owned physical and digital spaces are over,” the study states. “Shopping is increasingly about pushing brands into the daily lives of consumers, wherever they prefer to engage.”

For example, Salesforce found that 9% of all online purchases by volume now take place on emerging digital channels like voice and social media. While that number pales in comparison to online marketplaces like Amazon—which account for 47% of all online purchases by volume—it suggests a continued willingness by consumers to adopt emerging shopping channels.

Not surprisingly these new options are favoured by younger generations, with Salesforce noting that members of Gen Z are 3.5 times more likely than Boomers to purchase on an emerging channel, and one-quarter of millennials and Gen Z indicating that they are interested in shopping via a gaming console. It’s these changing attitudes that lead Salesforce to predict that shopping on the edge will “become the norm” over time.

The third iteration of Salesforce’s Connected Shoppers Report is based on interviews with more than 10,000 people (including 502 Canadians) and highlights the myriad ways in which the shopping experience is changing.

Among the highlights from the Canadian research:

Canadians prefer online marketplaces

Online marketplaces such as Amazon account for more than half (55%) of all online purchases among Canadians, slightly above the global average of 47%. One-quarter of all online purchases by Canadians are made via a retailer’s website or shopping app (which aligns with the global average of 26%), while 14% are made via a brand site or app, compared with 18% globally.

Canadian consumers overwhelmingly prefer brick-and-mortar locations for first-time purchases, with 84% of respondents indicating that is their preferred method of purchasing. That number drops to 40% for repeat purchases, with online marketplaces increasing from 10% to 33%.

“Repeat buyers no longer need to see an item in person to verify they like it, so they’re taking advantage of a plethora of shopping destinations to get the best price and most convenient fulfillment options,” says the study.

Stores are “critical” for discovery, experience and fulfillment 

Brick-and-mortar stores still have a role to play in the shopping experience, with Salesforce noting that touching and feeling a product is still “critical” for many shoppers, as is the ability to get a product immediately, while avoiding shipping fees and taking advantage of in-store discounts.

More than half (52%) of Canadian shoppers have opted for in-store pick-up of an item purchased online, while 51% have arranged for shipping of an item unavailable in the store. Stores continue to function as “hubs of discovery, experience and fulfillment,” the study concludes.

The new terms of shopper engagement

Nearly half of Canadian consumers (49%) tend to shop with a specific brand in mind, but the study also presents an overview of the traits that consumers tend to look for in a brand, including offering exclusive experiences and/or promotions; catering to their specific needs, and engaging them in the places they prefer.

Shoppers moving to the edge 

Canadians have an average of two shopping apps installed on their mobile devices, compared to four in markets like Belgium and Hong Kong, and three in Brazil.

In addition, 17% use mobile wallet products like Apple Wallet or Android Pay to make purchases, while 9% use social media and 4% use messaging apps.

Holiday shopping: early indications

Salesforce found that nearly half (47%) of Canadians plan to use online marketplaces more for their holiday shopping this season, while more than one-third (37%) plan to use an app to make a holiday purchase. The leading factors in holiday purchases: 1. What’s available in physical stores 2. Sales or promo codes, and 3. Free or expedited shipping.


Chris Powell