New research from DS Smith claims to have identified the birth of the “fusion shopper” – with many consumers now blending their time across bricks and mortar, online, and click & collect.

The research shows that in an average month consumers shop in-store five times, online four times, and use click and collect twice – with the latter growing fast. Two-fifths (42%) of people are more likely to have used click & collect services during the pandemic.

However, whilst consumers are shifting their shopping habits, experts also warn that their experience hasn’t always been smooth. Indeed, less than one in three respondents (29%) said that online shopping was their preferred shopping method, and 49% described click & collect as “the worst of both worlds”.

A behavioural scientist, Professor Ivo Vlaev, from the University of Warwick Business School, comments: “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 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 that 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 consumers’ current preferred method, it’s clear that it is not without its frustrations, with the pandemic having 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%).