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Q&A: Retail consultant, Elaine Scott, discusses the new Cybertill consumer research

The needs of parents whilst shopping can be vastly different to any other demographic. What can retailers do to to accommodate this? The latest consumer research… View Article


Q&A: Retail consultant, Elaine Scott, discusses the new Cybertill consumer research

The needs of parents whilst shopping can be vastly different to any other demographic. What can retailers do to to accommodate this?

The latest consumer research report from Cybertill is about the shopping behaviour of parents, why did you choose this consumer market to focus on?

ES: It’s simple, parents are never solely shopping for themselves. Mums and dads are buying for all different age ranges and across all different departments of retail, from grocery, kinds fashion and toys, to technology and homeware. They are often not shopping BY themselves either. With kids in tow, a shopping trip is often intermittent with toilet breaks, refreshment stops, and entertainment breaks. Retailers need to accommodate this. For that reason, the needs of parents whilst shopping can be vastly different to any other demographic.

Q: What was the most surprising/interesting result to come from the research?

ES: Only 24% said that their main incentive to go into store was the face-to-face customer service from store staff. Our research also found that 74% of parents feel frustrated when shop staff seem less knowledgeable about the product(s) in-store than themselves. This shows that retailers really have an opportunity to entice customers into store by ensuring that shop staff can really help them. This means ensuring that are trained and have access to information at their fingertips. Consumers need to trust your shop staff to trust your brand. Parents also want retailers to offer self-help technology, such as stock check.

Q: And what about online shopping?

ES: The modern-day parent seems to be more inclined to browse in-store and buy online, rather than browse online and buy in-store. Also, 67% of parents want to look at a product in real life before purchasing. Ensuring that it is easy to find products in-store, or that shop staff are knowledgeable about where products are in-store can help build trust in your brand.

Q: Is there any particular sector that parents prefer to shop in-store or online with?

ES: Retailers without an omnichannel presence are missing out on a large portion of sales from parents who spend their time moving between channels, and not committing all of their time to one shopping channel.

Parents have different preferences when it comes to shopping in-store, online or both, depending  on what kind of goods they are buying. When shopping for baby and nursery, 9% of parents shop in-store only, which is a very small percentage when compared to other categories.

Interestingly, despite grocery online shopping being highly marketed towards the family and helping out parents as a timesaving service, only 15% of parents shop for groceries solely online, 8% browse in-store and then buy online, and 49% prefer to shop for groceries in-store only.

Electrical and fashion purchases are most often subject to in-store browsing followed by online buying, with 19% of parents selecting this preference for electrical and 15% for fashion.

Q: What about loyalty schemes, what would your advice be to retailers looking to entice parents in with loyalty?

ES: I would say keep it simple. It’s obvious that customers want value for money, especially parents. This market won’t have a need for VIP launch events, or experience days or store openings in return for their loyalty. They want discounts and promotions. Of course, this may not be suitable for retailers to offer, but how about other methods where the customer will feel like they are getting value for their money; points that equal prizes in store, free returns via post if they have shopped online, pre-access to sales and so on.

Q: And why did you choose Smyth’s Toys and River Island as your stand out retailers for parents?

ES: Once we had received the data back from the survey and once we had processed and analysed the results, we then looked to the high street to see who was already accommodating to the many needs of parent consumers, and the stand out retailers where Smyth’s Toys and River Island. Smyth’s have a 1 hour turn around for click and collect with a dedicated click and collect till area, as well as staff around the store who have mobile PoS systems that can also process click and collect. Our research found that 64% of parents want a dedicated click and collect area and 42% said that is frustrates them when they end up queuing in the wrong place for collection.

The River Island campaign ‘labels are for clothes’ was a huge hit with parents and it coincided perfectly with their expansion into kidswear-only stores that have been opening up throughout the country since earlier this year.

Q: Other than what’s mentioned in your new research, what retail advancement do you think would benefit parents the most?

ES: Drive through collection points or curb side pickup. Anecdotally I’ve heard time and time again from parents saying that they would go 20 minutes out of their way to shop with a retailer that offered curb side pickup just to avoid the potential mayhem of shopping with children.  If you’re looking to get ahead of your competition, and are targeting parent consumers, providing convenience such as a drive through window service, or curb side pickup. It’s already the norm for many retailers in the US, but the UK has yet to begin offering this kind of convenience.


Elaine Scott is an expert in sector-specific research for retailers. She has helped retailers from one store to hundreds of stores manage their business more effectively with Cybertill’s retail management software. A recognised thought leader in specialist retail sectors, she has been published in Professional Jeweller magazine talking about omnichannel retailing. If you are a retailer interested in digital transformation, please email Elaine directly at

To download the Retail Consumer Data Report on UK Parents, please visit:

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