It's important for consumers to feel fashionable when it comes to online shopping, but an IBM study of 110,000 consumers in 19 countries found that consumers are not comfortable with combining the digital and physical worlds when making purchases.
While there's a growing affection for online shopping, the IBM Institute for Business Value study found that 43% of consumers said they prefer to shop online, but only 29% made their last purchase online. In youth apparel or home furnishings product categories, a 20-point gap exists between the percentage of people who say they enjoy shopping online, and the percentage of people who actually made their last purchase online.
There's also an expectation that digital coupons and other benefits will make a crossover into the physical store. Beacons will become popular. Companies like Industry Weapon and Storeworks will soon debut a new communication tool for retailers looking for effective targeted marketing and personalized brand experiences. Through Bluetooth technology, the combined company's platforms will see communications on nearby digital signage and their personal mobile devices.
Consumers say they like technology, but many still fear privacy issues and data theft. Most prefer features that help them find in-stock products without giving up too much information.
IBM was the first company in the United States during the mid 2000s to debut a television spot showing the future of shopping and self-checkouts. The message highlighted a technology retailers thought would make it to commercial use, radio frequency identification technology, but it's mostly used today in business supply chains. In the ad a man walks through the grocery store putting items in his coat pockets. When he passes a threshold close to the front door, the RFID tags tally up the purchases, debut his account and spits out a receipt. This was the beginning of personalized shopping and bridging the gap between digital and physical.
When asked what consumers want, the IBM study found inventory visibility sits high on the list, along with personalize promotions. Out-of-stock products have become less acceptable. Some 60% surveyed said it is important for them to find an item in stock before going to the store.
About 60% want to have the ability to identify in-stock items before going into a store. Some 46% want employees to solve out-of-stock issues via a mobile device, up from 40% a year ago.
When in the store, 44% of shoppers want on-demand communication, and 41% said it's important that store associates offer personalized promotions based on their purchase history or preferences, compared to 36% who participating in last year's survey.
Consumers also are willing to share more social, location, and mobile information with trusted retailers compared to last year, but the study shows 42% of consumers see the potential benefit, but only 28% do it. Fifty-four percent see the benefit of sharing their mobile information in exchange for text discounts, but only 42% do.