Walker Sands: 'incredibly fast' digital transformation of retail

Walker Sands’ Future of Retail Study for 2015 makes fascinating reading. Based on a survey across 1,400 US online consumers, it offers numerous insights reflecting the speed and extent of digital transformation on retail. 

mobile payments

Cash is in decline. Just 11 per cent of consumers have paid for items in cash in the past day and they customarily carry less than $20 in their pocket.

Interest in mobile payments is increasing. Forty percent of consumers have used a mobile payment app in the past year, up from 8 percent in 2013. There are concerns about the security (57%) and privacy (48%) implications of mobile payments, but Apple’s launch of Apple Pay has put life into the industry. Eighteen percent of consumers (and 36 percent of Apple users) are “more likely to make a purchase” with their smartphone in the next year as a result.

Peer-to-peer payment systems are becoming increasingly important. Half of consumers aged 18-25 years are likely to exchange money with a friend or colleague via a mobile app such as Venmo or QuickPay. There’s a real generational difference here – just 19 percent of consumers aged 46-60 years will use these services.

online sales

Twenty-eight percent of consumers shop online at least once per week – that’s up 27 percent year-on-year; but 68 percent of consumers shop online at least once a month, compared to 62 percent in 2013.

“The findings indicate that consumers have become more comfortable ordering online and incorporating Web purchases more frequently into their online shopping routines,” the report states. It’s also universal, nearly everyone in the survey (99.8 per cent) said they had made at least one Web purchase in the last year.

Free shipping is more important than fast shipping, and “could incentivize” consumers to shop online for products they do not traditionally buy online. Free returns make a difference: 27 percent of consumers would purchase a product online costing over $1,000 if returns were free.

future trends

There are a number of emerging technologies that may impact retail.  Consumers are already thinking about:


Sixty-six percent of consumers expect to receive their first drone-delivered package in the next five years. Drone delivery could even become an inducement to purchase, four out of five shoppers say drone delivery within the hour would make them more likely to order online from a retailer.  Almost half (48 percent) of consumers would pay at least $5 for delivery by drone.

Virtual Reality

Over a third (35 percent) of consumers want to use solutions like Oculus Rift to shop online – almost two-thirds of shoppers expect solutions like these to be part of their future shopping experience.

“Retailers should think about how emerging technology might fit into their overall strategies, while also realizing that untested tech may turn out to be nothing more like hype in the end,” the report suggests.

Find out more about how Orange can help you with your digital transformation here. Take a look at this useful infographic exploring the potential of the transformation and read about how we helped DARTY put digital at the heart of its high street retail experience here.



Jon Evans

Jon Evans is a highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men's interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.