In-Store Shopping Getting More Play, But With Conditions

According to the results of the latest study of “Seamless Retailing” by Accenture, 21% of U.S. shoppers said they plan to increase their in-store purchasing, up from just 9% of shoppers in the previous year. 40% of respondents, when asked to name what retailers need to improve the most, ranked improving the in-store shopping experience first, compared to just 16% who said the same of online shopping.

Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, notes that “… survey results indicate that retailers have an opportunity to increase in-store sales… only if they make the experience worthwhile… such as information (online) on product availability… available in-store… street retailers must… differentiate (their) shopping experience… compared to online pure-plays… “

19% of shoppers said they are using “click and collect” services (reserving or buying an item online and then traveling to a store to collect it,) compared to 12% who said the same in the previous survey. And more shoppers (14% compared to 7%) are buying in-store and having the product shipped to their home.

The ability to check product availability online before traveling to a store is the service that would most improve the shopping experience for 31% of U.S. shoppers surveyed. And, 89% of respondents said they would either travel to a store to make a purchase or buy online if retailers offered this real-time information.

The study found that 78% of U.S. shoppers had webroomed (browsing online and then going to a store to make their purchase) in the 12 months before the latest survey, while 72% had showroomed (going into a physical store to see a product and then searching online for a better price and purchasing online). The proportion of shoppers, who engaged in webrooming for consumer electronics and home improvement purchases, increased significantly from 2012 from 39% to 48%, and 25% to 35%, respectively.

The report says that 57% of respondents said that waiting for free delivery was the most important delivery option from either an online pure-play or a multi-channel retailer, compared to 23% who preferred to pay a reasonable charge for next-day delivery. In the 2012 study, though, just 25% of respondents said they expected a free-delivery purchase to arrive within one to five days, while in the latest survey, that number jumped to 44%.

Donnely says that “… online pure-play retailers that offer faster delivery in return for an annual subscription, are having a profound impact on shoppers’ expectations… but they are not always willing to wait as long to get it… ”

The study found that 51% of consumers expect a retailer’s product offerings to be the same across different shopping channels compared to 43% in the previous study. 57% also expect promotions to be the same across channels and 69% expect prices to be the same.

The survey results, according to the report, indicate that many retailers are not providing a seamless customer experience in some key areas. Only 31% of shoppers said that their customer accounts were completely connected across in-store and online channels, and just 32% said that they were able to earn and use loyalty points across multiple channels. In addition, the proportion of shoppers who believe they will secure a better price online rose from 21% to 31%. 

Donnely concludes that “… delivering a seamless experience across all retail touch points remains both a key challenge and prime opportunity for retailers today… “

For more information about this study, please visit the Infographic here.

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