Accelerating Digital Retail in DACH: A Consumer Perspective

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At a glance:

Demanding consumers, breakthrough technologies and new business models are disrupting retail. To better understand the current retail innovation attempts in DACH, and explore how buyers are responding, we surveyed over 2.000 DACH consumers on their personal needs and preferences for retail, both offline and online.

Although digital plays an important part in the retail customer experience, getting the fundamentals right still matters online and offline. In this report, we provide four strategies that will help retailers ensure they are meeting customer’s baseline expectations for digital services and determine how to best differentiate with digital throughout the customer experience.

> Click here to download the full study


We learned eight things about retail consumers in DACH:

  1. Price and assortment are still most relevant for consumers when deciding where to shop, but digital services can help retailers to stay relevant
  2. Physical experience still matters—60% choose physical stores to examine the product, 30+% to support their local store and to shop immediately
  3. More than 50% of consumers of all generations expect an online or omni-channel experience in electronics, household and fashion—including Baby Boomers (+55y) and Silent Generation +73y)
  4. Less than 40% of consumers are looking for innovative digital services—delivering on basic digital services remains priority
  5. Only about a half of consumers use their mobile phone before or during in-store experiences—indicating mobile is not sufficiently integrated into the customer journey
  6. Consumers have developed high expectations for the last mile, including free delivery, free returns and delivery tracking; more than a third want “green“ delivery as standard
  7. On average, ca. 60% of consumers participate in a leading loyalty program—they expect intercompany usability and tangible rewards (i.e. offers and discounts, free delivery)
  8. While a third of consumers do not want to share personal data, the rest are willing to share when presented with tangible benefits


Based on these findings, we believe retailers in DACH who wish to win consumers in the 2020s should focus on four areas:

  1. Get the basics right when going digital and differentiate with advanced, customer-centric services: Retailers must make sure to deliver on digital services that have become hygiene factors for consumers and then build selected advanced services to “wow” the customers
  2. Actively design and manage the customer experience: To increase acceptance and use of digital services, retailers must think with a strong customer experience perspective in mind and actively shape outstanding experiences enabled by digital services (e.g. with a “Customer Experience Officer”)
  3. Use analytics to uncover what customers desire: Retailers should go beyond asking the customer what they want, invest more in customer analytics and enlarge existing data sets as necessary to  gain additional insights, continuously observe and learn about customer preferences and test new services
  4. Run the transformation as a continuous journey: In order to drive the adoption of digital services, retailers should set up a dedicated program to “test and learn” with new services over time and  actively involve customers


Vice President & Partner, Head of IBM Digital Strategy & iX DACH

Michael Fischer

Executive Partner, IBM Consumer Products & Retail Industry Leader DE & AT

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