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Canadian consumers seek more sustainable shopping options: SOTI study

IMAGE: SOTI's senior vice president of product strategy, Shash Anand.
SOTI's senior vice-president of product strategy, Shash Anand. (Courtesy SOTI Inc.)

Canadians slightly outpace the global average in their preference for a more sustainable way to return retail goods, according to a study from Mississauga-based internet of things (IoT) solutions provider SOTI Inc.

Canadian respondents were among the most eager regarding this question at 58 per cent. Citizens from Mexico and France placed the highest at 68 per cent and 58 per cent, respectively. The global average is 54 per cent.

The Tech Effect: Strengthening the Omnichannel to Meet Consumer Demands explores the retail attitudes of consumers from eight global markets. It reveals a preference for hybrid shopping availability in the wake of the pandemic.

“I think what’s interesting is how the confluence of events over the past two years has radically altered consumer behaviour and the subsequent pressure this is putting on retailers,” said Shash Anand, SOTI’s senior vice-president of product strategy, in an email interview with SustainableBiz.

“The retail landscape has completely changed, driven by the pandemic, inflation, supply chain issues and constantly shifting consumer expectations.”

SOTI’s research was conducted between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3 by U.K.-based Arlington Research. The results were compiled from 10,000 online interviews with people aged 18 to 65 and included quotas for age, gender and region. One thousand Canadians were interviewed as well as consumers from the U.S., Mexico, U.K., Germany, France, Sweden and Australia.

SOTI, founded in 1995, has offices in the U.S., Europe, India, Japan, Australia and the U.A.E. It provides mobile and IoT management solutions to over 17,000 enterprise customers worldwide.

SOTI’s Canadian results

The report found 43 per cent of Canadian consumers prefer to shop online while 58 per cent are more likely to continue shopping in-store.

“As a result, Canadian retailers must master hybrid shopping experiences to meet consumer expectations,” Anand said. “Retailers offering the most seamless shopping experience, online and in-store, have and will thrive.

"This provides retailers with an opportunity to merge strategies from both worlds and address consumer pain points. Those that do not leverage technology to enhance the hybrid experience risk losing consumers to competitors quicker than in previous years.”

As well, 48 per cent of Canadian respondents revealed a preference for a retailer which offers carbon offsets and more recyclable packaging, which Anand said is in line with the study’s global average. This result was tied with the U.K., with only Mexico, France and Sweden ahead.

Canada is also in line with global trends showing 52 per cent of consumers are less likely to order an item requiring shipping from overseas, compared to the previous year. Canadian respondents were 55 per cent less likely, while Australians were at 57 per cent and U.K. citizens at 62 per cent.

Forty-eight per cent of Canadians preferred a personalized shopping experience, compared to 50 per cent globally.

Outside of sustainability, the top three options for Canadians ordering items are front door home delivery (58 per cent), in-home delivery (14 per cent) and designated drop-off points between the store and their home (10 per cent).

“Our data demonstrates that Canadians have high expectations for retailers – faster delivery times, multiple delivery options, accurate product availability, personalized shopping experiences and easy returns processes,” Anand said. “All of these factors must be addressed in an environmentally sustainable and responsible manner.

“Canadian consumers are becoming more conscious of their spending, and carbon impact is becoming a new deciding factor.”

SOTI’s global results

Globally, 88 per cent of respondents experienced availability, pricing and shipping issues, a seven per cent increase from the previous year’s report.

“For long-term growth, retailers will need to upgrade both hardware and software across their entire supply chain management processes, physical warehouses and stores so they can meet these expectations, ensuring the consumer is getting the best value for their dollar,” Anand said. “As the industry continues to evolve and digitize, mastering the hybrid shopping model will be imperative for retailers.

"To be successful, companies will need invest in technology to improve the management of their increased device fleets and leverage data from diagnostics intelligence to improve their ROI (return on investment).”

Fifty-eight per cent reported items being more expensive, 34 per cent said the items they wanted were unavailable, 31 per cent said delivery times were slower than usual, and 28 per cent said delivery charges were more expensive.

The company plans to share the results with business both online and in upcoming conferences.

“Retail is a core market for us. For over 10 years we have attended NRF (National Retail Federation) and this year we have two speaking sessions to discuss our findings and the opportunities that exist for retailers today,” Anand said. “In showcasing our data, we will demonstrate the importance of the omni-channel retail model.”

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