Customer needs in digital retail – pre-sales

Retail is becoming increasingly digitalised. Omnichannel and cross-channel sales have long since become the standard in the connected world. But what is really important to the consumer and how do different generations view the digital transformation in retailing?

Focus group discussion – pre-sales

During my trend research using focus group discussion, it quickly became clear that there were differences in the needs of cross-channel shopping in terms of generations and gender. Not only in terms of basic product understanding, but also in terms of dealing with online channels and buying behaviour. If one divides the purchasing behaviour into different phases, especially the pre-purchase phase, the buying phase and the post-purchase phase, a special orientation of the customer’s needs becomes clear in the pre-purchase phase.

The pre-sales phase essentially offers companies a starting point for winning new customers and retaining them in the long term. It serves to identify problems and needs, to search for information and to evaluate the various channels and offers.

In consultation with the customers, the following requirements are particularly relevant for a successful pre-sales phase

  • Information
  • individual address
  • price

Let’s take a detailed look at the needs of customers in connected retail.



From the consumers’ point of view, information is an essential factor in the shopping experience. Nowadays it has become commonplace to obtain the first information about brands, product details or technology from the Internet. Nevertheless, retailers do not lose any of their importance. The group believes that it is only in direct contact with the shop that you can find out how the products feel, how they work or whether they really meet the expectations and requirements.


Individual Address

Despite their need for information, customers do not want to be lost in an uncontrolled flood of information. Individual communication tailored to the needs and preferences of customers is not only desired, but also required. Especially the wide range of products that Amazon and Co. Although the company welcomes the need for brand diversity or a corresponding selection of product variations when there is an urgent need for brand diversity, the lack of expert advice makes it very difficult for consumers to find what they are looking for. Discussion participants agree that they don’t want to be overwhelmed with information, but instead demand individual product and purchase recommendations from retailers. One participant particularly highlighted the textile retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H & M) as a positive example. She reported about catalogues that were sent to her and her roommate. While the roommate’s catalogue revolves exclusively around clothing and accessories, her own catalogue has been supplemented by a few pages from the decoration department – a product category from which she has already ordered more frequently. A concept of individual approach that made an impression.



Price is also a central topic in the search for suitable products and dealers. Although online shopping is generally cheaper, the advantages of the stationary retailer are still in high demand, as some factors cannot be offered when buying online. Consumers are increasingly finding themselves in a dilemma when it comes to choosing the right channel for shopping. You want the convenience of buying in the store, but still the cheapest price.



Conclusion of the trend research retail

The discussion confirms what the experts in the previous section have already highlighted as a key factor for the success of the retail: the needs of customers must become the central focus of customer contact. Despite a wide range of products, further, individually tailored communication measures are necessary in order to make shopping as personal as possible for the customer. The different channels should also be used according to their respective advantages.

The consumer should experience a balanced shopping experience, whether online, mobile or stationary. The pre-purchase phase clearly shows that the shop is increasingly becoming an information centre in the eyes of the consumers. Advice and testing during the purchase are still desired, but the customer would like to decide afterwards whether he buys directly on site or places the order at a later time mobile or online

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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