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Social commerce, sampling, return to stores

Faced with the uncertainties affecting store openings since 2019, French consumers appear to be the most appetites for physical commerce, according to Bazaarvoice’s annual Shopper Experience Index study.

60% of French people would like to come back to the store to make their purchases next year if the situation allows it, according to the Shopper Experience Index 2021 published by Bazaarvoice, publisher of a user-generated content (UGC) and customer reviews solution. While 30% of consumers say they have voluntarily restricted their in-store travel in 2020, 14% also say they will no longer go to the store and 19% prefer to travel only for essential purchases. However, the French appear to be one of the most appetizing groups for post-crisis physical commerce, ahead of Germany and the United States, where only 49% of consumers express the desire to return to the store more freely. This figure drops to 43% in the United Kingdom and climbs to 63% in Australia.

futur of shopping

Unsurprisingly, it is the possibility of touching, seeing and trying products that motivates nearly half of French consumers to visit a store. In a more theoretical way, six out of ten people consider that they are more connected to brands when shopping physically. When this encounter proves impossible, brands have an interest in meeting their customers, notably through sampling strategies.

Indeed, 90% of the respondents to the study appreciate receiving free samples at home and 51% say they would write a review to judge these articles, 26% say they would also publish a post on social media. It should be noted that since January 1st  2019, online platforms with more than 5 million unique visitors per month must commit to strengthening their commitments to clarity and transparency. It is therefore necessary to mention to the consumer the existence of this practice and the fact that a notice has been written following the sending of a free sample. Furthermore, it is obviously forbidden to ask for a positive opinion in exchange for the sending of a free sample.

At the same time, the study highlights the rise of social commerce. 27% of respondents say they use social networks to discover new products and buy them and 30% have indeed made a purchase in the past year. This rate climbs to 43% for 18-24 year olds and even 47% for 25-34 year olds worldwide. When they choose to switch to shopping on a site, 40% of French shoppers indicate that they would prefer to refrain from buying if there is no content posted by users in the form of non-professional photos on the product page they are viewing.