Before, After And In The Middle: Consumers Cite Retail Message Choices

Retail shoppers prefer email over other forms of communication — in at least two instances.

Among the consumers polled, 35% said they choose email prior to a shopping visit, versus 19% who prefer text, according to the 2020 Customer Engagement Survey, a Study by enVista, an ecommerce software and consulting firm.

Another 19% said they prefer online chat and 16% said they would opt for the phone, while 11% cite social media.

The margin is even greater after purchase, when 49% prefer email, compared with 24% who specify text and 27% who prefer online chat.

“From the retailer point of view, email is the preferred method to confirm orders, remind the consumer of an unfinished online shopping opportunity, entice the customer to visit the store or thank them for shopping and offer incentives to visit again,” the study notes.

It adds: “Order confirmations and shipping status updates sent through email offer an important opportunity to build trust with the consumer.”



All that said, text messaging dominates in-store — 38% prefer it, compared with 30% for email.

But here’s the rub: None of the channels is as important by itself as they are all together. Of the consumers polled, 72% say they will buy from a brand that offers the chance to do so across channels.

Moreover, 51% are likely to shop with a retailer that allows them to have a shared cart across channels. And 65% feel that the ability to buy anywhere and ship anywhere is an important factor.

The first challenge is to identify customers. In-store, 18% of retailers polled ID consumers as they approach the store, 42% when they enter, 13% within the store before checkout, an 27% at checkout. 

Online, 35% can ID people when they enter the site, 51% after they enter their account information, 8% at checkout an 6% after checkout.

Identification is critical because 72% of consumers say personalized service in-store is a key factor in choosing where to shop, and 51% say the same about personalization across channels.

“The winners in the retail competition for customers’ share of wallet succeed by unifying the entire shopping experience through alignment of the organization, processes and technology to support customer expectations,” states Gene Bornac, senior vice president of retail for enVista.

As part of its two-party study, enVista surveyed both consumers and retailers in the U.S.


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