In Store Beats Online

The Lempert Report
February 24, 2015

From in store visits, to the impact of social media, a new consumer survey has some lessons retailers won't want to miss.

There's no doubt to the appeal and popularity of online shopping, but a new survey reminds retailers that consumers do still gravitate towards the brick-and-mortar store. According to Price waterhouse Coopers's latest annual consumer survey called, Total Retail: Retailers and the Age of Disruption,  the physical store still serves as the primary shopping destination. 

According to the survey, which included more than 19,000 respondents globally, only 27% of U.S. consumers say they shop online weekly. Reserving the strength of the traditional store, 68% of U.S. respondents say they have intentionally browsed products at a store but decided to purchase them online, while 73% say they have browsed products online but decided to purchase them in-store. As many as 65% of the respondents noted delivery fees as the reason for purchasing in-store, as well as having the item immediately (61%) and trying it on or seeing it (61%).

Mobile technology plays a large role, but the report showed that for now, in the US, this platform helps consumers in their buying process but it's not used for the actual purchase. According to the data,  half (46%) of U.S. survey respondents research products on their mobile phones, while nearly the same percentage (45%) have used them for price comparisons. But only 1% of consumers say mobile payments are their preferred method of payment. And what about social media? When asked if social media had led them to buy more, 36% said “yes, in some cases” — showing most retailers may still have a way to go here. 

For retailers, this survey shows that while shoppers are utilizing all platforms  (some go online to buy, some go online to compare prices and products and then buy in store) people still want the in store experience.  Which means retailers need to work hard to appeal on all these levels.  As much as we should focus on having an online, mobile and social media presence so customer have options, that should not come at the expense of a vibrant in store experience. As consumers becomes more complex in the way they search and buy, retailers need to continue to adapt.