Young shoppers keen to see digital tech in corner shops

Half of millennials and Generation Z consumers care more about digital technology improvements in High Street and corner shops than prices, according to new research from Vodafone and Allwyn.

The survey of 1,000 adults carried out by research agency Context Consulting on behalf of Vodafone and Alwyn found that 50 per cent of under 34-year olds would like to see digital improvements at their local corner shop, but only a third said they’d prefer to see lower prices (31 per cent).

The report found that “local retailers need urgently to update their tech if they are going to continue to attract younger shoppers.”

The most common forms of digital tech being used by local corner shops according to the research were websites (19 per cent), social media (16 per cent), and self-service checkouts (15 per cent).

However, only 12 per cent of customers said their local store had a mobile app or loyalty scheme and only 9 per cent said they were aware of online collection ordering services.

There is an opportunity for local retailers to upgrade their use of digital technology in order to continue to entice younger customers, and provide a smooth and efficient service, the research concluded.

Commenting on the findings, Nick Gliddon, business director at Vodafone, said: “The shift to digital during the pandemic created new opportunities for small businesses while also presenting many new challenges, especially for the convenience and local sector.

“A strong foundation of digital technology and skills is now more than a nice to have, it is crucial for small business owners who want to compete and succeed now. We want to ensure small business leaders have access to the right tools and guidance to confidently navigate the digital environment.

He added: “The corner shop has been one of the most resilient outlets on the high street – we want to ensure that remains the case, and this group of entrepreneurs stays ahead of the competition.”

Allwyn is an operator of lotteries in numerous countries across Europe and is currently applying for a fourth national lottery licence with support from its strategic partner, Vodafone.

Justin King, member of the Allwyn Advisory Board and former Sainsbury’s chief executive, said: “It is clear that Covid has accelerated a shift in consumer habits towards the relative convenience of smaller local shops. However, those that are thriving are also embracing the opportunity of digital, be that through online apps and deliveries, or in-store innovations.

He added: “The upside is significant - but fail to innovate and invest and you will struggle against increasing competition from a combination of dark stores, super fast delivery and ever more locally orientated big chains. Small shops must embrace their natural advantage in being nimble and dynamic.”

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