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Report: E-Commerce Hasn’t Replaced Traditional Retail, Even for Millennials and Gen Z

While the rise of e-commerce has undoubtedly changed the retail landscape, a newly-released report commissioned by RetailMeNot reveals that physical stores still have a significant role to play.

A recent survey by Kelton Global revealed that 85 percent of Americans shop in at least one retail store (excluding grocers and convenience stores) per week, and the average consumer visits three stores. That number is even higher for millennials, who visit four stores per week, and Gen Z consumers, who visit an average of 5.25 stores.

Still, today’s consumer does virtually nothing without a mobile device in hand, the report said. Shoppers are consulting their smartphones throughout their time in store, looking for deals and information about their potential purchases.

More than half of the shoppers surveyed (53 percent) would rather research promotions and discounts on their phones than interact with a store associate, and the vast majority (69 percent) admitted that they’d rather read reviews online than consult with an associate about a product.

“In-store retail is still the most important channel for consumers, and the role that mobile plays in the shopping journey is notable to retailers who want to reach in-store shoppers,” explained Marissa Tarleton, CEO of RetailMeNot. “The mobile device is the number one in-store shopping companion, which is a marketing opportunity for retailers to drive in-store footfall, incentivize sales and understand online-to-offline behavior.”

Retailers can lure consumers into their physical stores is by leveraging the popularity of coupon-collecting apps and by offering mobile discounts. Nearly half (49 percent) of shoppers have an app on their phone that keeps track of in-store deals, and 65 percent of Americans cited mobile coupons that they receive on their phone as an important part of the shopping experience. A majority of consumers (69 percent) said that receiving a personalized, mobile coupon that they could use in-store would increase their chances of visiting a retail location.

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Still, the research suggested that the best approach is an ominchannel one. While 64 percent of shoppers are completing their purchases in store, that’s not always where their shopping journey starts. The data reveals that 39 percent of shoppers begin their search for the perfect deal on their mobile device, and 14 percent start on a desktop.

“Mobile browsing and research are standard for most shoppers, and a substantial number of consumers are comfortable converting on either that same smartphone device or in a physical store, based on what is convenient to their needs at the time of their journey,” Tarleton said.

The data revealed that despite the rise of e-commerce, many consumers are compelled to complete a purchase in-store.

About one-third (30 percent) said they would be willing to buy in person if they found a deal on their smartphone. Thirty-eight percent of shoppers who begin their journey on a mobile device, along with 43 percent of shoppers who begin their journey on a desktop end up completing their purchase in a physical store.