According to new research by Accenture, the “Seamless Retail Study,” 49% of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. 89% of consumers said it is important for retailers to let them shop for products in the way that is most convenient for them, no matter which sales channel they choose.
94% of all survey participants found in-store shopping easy. They are less bullish, however, about their experience with other shopping channels: 74% said online shopping is easy, but only 26% found the mobile phone shopping experience easy.
Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, finds “... a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality... retailers must... deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns... ”
The report says that consistency weighs heavily on the consumer experience. 73% of consumers expect a retailer’s online pricing to be the same as its in-store pricing, and 61% expect a retailer’s online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.
Yet, a benchmark analysis by Accenture indicated that while 73% offer the same promotions online as in the store, only 16% offer the same prices online as they do in the store. Additionally, while 43% of consumers surveyed expect a retailer to offer the same product assortment online as they do in the store, only 19% of retailers actually offer the same product assortment, according to Accenture’s analysis of top retailers.
The survey found that as online shopping continues to grow as a consumer preference, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between stores and online channels. For example, during the six months prior to the survey, 73% of respondents indicated that they participated in the practice of “showrooming”, or browsing at least once in-store and then buying online. 88% said they participated in “webrooming”, or browsing first on the internet then buying in-store.
Of the consumers who had showroomed in the six months prior to the survey, 41% said they are doing that more than they were the year before. Additionally, the survey found that 43% of all U.S. consumers plan to shop more online and 23% plan to shop more with their mobile phones in the future.
Asked what kind of information would be useful to have from their favorite retailers before going to a physical store, 82% of consumers selected having access to current product availability as their top choice. However, the research showed that this is offered by only 21% of retailers.
The survey also highlighted the following findings:
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