Clicking everything into place

Shopping, thankfully, is no longer just rushing from store-to-store in different malls. It can now be done by surfing the internet, and by using our mobile apps to find the right products and to pay for them. We are gradually entering an era when brick-and-mortar stores are being transformed into something more like showrooms or places to pick up (and return) goods ordered online. Luckily, my own shopping habits are perfectly in line with this trend

It will soon be a full year since I joined the editorial team of ‘Eurobuild CEE’. So this is probably a good time for our readers to finally get to know me. I love watching ‘Friends’, I’m addicted to Pepsi, and – which may be surprising considering my gender – I simply detest traditional shopping. Food or clothes, footwear or bags. Or any other kind, for that matter. I hate trudging through shopping centres; I can’t stand the crowds of people on Saturdays that mill around such Warsaw malls as Arkadia or Wola Park. I even have an acute aversion to having to pop down to the local convenience store because I’ve run out of butter. And trying on clothes in a place other than the privacy of my own home gives me the creeps. Therefore, I thank the heavens, fate and the geniuses who came up with the opportunity me to shop online. I’ve been ordering clothes and shoes from various online stores for some time now. A few years ago I also discovered, with something akin to childlike glee, that Auchan and Tesco can now deliver groceries to my home.

According to a report by the Polish Chamber of Electronic Economy (IGE) or the ‘e-Chamber’, which was established in June 2019, brick-and mortar-stores are the favourite shopping destinations of only 22 pct of internet users. 40 pct of respondents did not have a preference, whereas the remaining 38 pct prefer to do their shopping on the virtual plane. I certainly belong to the latter group. According to the report, 57 pct of those surveyed regularly shop on the internet – an increase of 5 pct since 2018. When it comes to the frequency of online shopping, around a quarter of e-customers make purchases more than five times a month, while 39 pct do this two to five times. And what have such changes in consumer behaviour led to? Retail chains are now becoming increasingly eager to cater to those as underwhelmed by the prospect of running around stores as myself. Click & collect services are now ever more popular and online purchases can be picked up in many different places. Parcel stations and package lockers have been popping up everywhere and represent an interesting option for grocery shopping. Parcels can also be collected at kiosks or petrol stations, but brick-and-mortar stores are another obvious collection point. If you have a shopping centre or retail park near your place of work or home, it’s a doddle to choose goods online, pick your purchases up a few days later, try them out at home, and maybe return or exchange them as required. However, there’s still much to be done in Poland to smooth out click & collect services, as is pointed out by Knight Frank in its recent ‘Polish-Style Omnichannel’ report. According to this, most brands on the Polish market have yet to fully embrace the potential of this kind of service. Half of those surveyed offer the option of picking up orders in brick-and-mortar stores, but only 38 pct seem to be encouraging it. The multimedia segment, however, which allows you to buy every available brand this way, is the best prepared sector in this regard, along with the electronic goods (85 pct) and DIY (80 pct) sectors. Supermarkets, on the other hand, came out worst in the survey. Only 46 pct of fashion brands offer this delivery option and a mere 35 pct actually encourage it. According to the report, European shopping centres are now making available such services as click & try. Posnania was the first to do so in Poland. A product from any online store can be despatched to the shopping centre for the customer to try on or try out on the spot. A rejected order can be returned immediately. And as far as I am concerned – this makes all the difference!

What else would I like to see eventually emerge at the dawning of this age of online shopping and click & collect services? Parcel lockers in brick-and-mortar stores, for one thing. The communist era may now seem like a distant memory, but you still often have to stand in queues, especially during the sales period or in the run-up to Christmas, even though you’ve only gone to pick up your online order. Perhaps such lockers will soon be appearing in Zara, Reserved or other fashion stores? Maybe something of the sort is already up-and-running somewhere, but I haven’t heard of it yet? But please bring them on as soon as possible, so I can finally lay my shopping centre phobia to rest.