Retailers and Consumers Out of Sync Regarding Shopping Expectations and Experience

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:

  • After purchasing, 81% said it is important for a retailer to enable them to pick up or arrange for delivery of their purchase regardless of how they paid for the item
  • 25% of survey respondents said they would be willing to wait two weeks for free shipping
  • 24% of respondents said it is important for retailers to offer same-day delivery, including 30% who are willing to pay $5-$10, and 19% who are willing to pay $11-$20 for same-day delivery
  • The ability to offer a range of different fulfillment capabilities is something offered by 56% of retailers; only 26% have a same day delivery capability
  • 49% of those surveyed are influenced by in-store offers (promotional displays, salespeople), 56% are influenced by email coupons and offers, and an equal amount say they are influenced by coupons mailed to their home
  • 69% and 62% respectively said that online pop-up ads and mobile banner ads would never influence their purchasing

For additional information from Accenture, please visit here.

1 comment about "Retailers and Consumers Out of Sync Regarding Shopping Expectations and Experience".
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  1. Mike Rahimi from mrinsights, April 30, 2013 at 9:35 a.m.

    The only way to meet the expectations of consumers that Brick and Mortar prices be the same as web pricing, is obviously to lower retail pricing, to make much lower margin, and possibly not cover the cost of rent, staff etc., and raise online pricing and make greater margin. There are two problems with this: 1) you have to be very good about what % of sales will be online, and what % in retail, if you are, the math is easy. 2) The retailers who only offer online selling will have a distinct price advantage, as they do not have to cover all of the expenses that a retailer who offers both does.

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