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NRF: Almost All Shoppers Value Convenience More Than They Did Five Years Ago

Retailers must continue to innovate when it comes to providing convenience to their consumers, a new study from the National Retail Federation (NRF) revealed.

The organization’s Consumer View report, released Tuesday, gauged the behavior and consumption trends of 2,949 U.S. shoppers. Findings showed that 83 percent of consumers value convenient shopping experiences more than they did just five years ago.

While purchasing decisions are often driven by price and quality, NRF’s data supports a theory that convenience can offer retailers a competitive advantage.

Almost all shoppers (97 percent) admitted to backing out of a purchase because it was inconvenient for them—despite finding a product that they wanted to buy.

“Time is a precious commodity for today’s consumers,” Mark Mathews, NRF’s vice president for research development and industry analysis, said.

“Shoppers are busier with commuting to work, dealing with family obligations or catching up on schoolwork, among other things,” Mathews added. “Naturally, convenience factors are playing a larger role in their shopping experience.”

Consumers have demonstrated that they’re willing to pay a premium to remove the guesswork from a purchasing process. Services like Amazon Prime, Shipt and Instacart—which offer fast, free shipping on a plethora of products— have gained major traction over the past five years. Well more than half (66 percent) of consumers currently pay for at least one delivery service, and a quarter (25 percent) subscribe to more than one.

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Shoppers value convenience differently depending on where they’re shopping, according to NRF. More than one third (38 percent) of online shoppers said that convenience is a priority during the exploratory phase of the shopping process, when they’re researching products and determining the best options. By contrast, in-store shoppers said checkout is where they most value a convenient experience.

When it comes to everyday items like groceries, personal care items and pet supplies, consumers absolutely demand a streamlined, easy path to purchase. But nearly half (47 percent) of shoppers making apparel purchases described convenience as a priority for them, too. Three-fifths (61 percent) said they’d be willing to pay more to ensure it.

Retailers are increasingly working to implement creative solutions to the convenience conundrum.

While many online and omnichannel retailers offer two-day shipping, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options are becoming increasingly popular. The majority of consumers who have used BOPIS (70 percent) said that the feature improved their experience with a retailer, and nearly all shoppers (93 percent) said they would be more likely to shop with retailers based on their commitment to convenient features and programs.

“While convenience continues to grow in importance for consumers, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution,” Mathews said. “As the industry evolves, retailers will look to identify additional ways to save consumers time and effort.”

According to NRF’s data, retailers are indeed making a dent in the growing list of consumer expectations. The vast majority (86 percent) of the survey’s respondents said that shopping is more convenient for them now than it was five years ago.