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Reversing Consumers’ Bias for Online Shopping

As if it’s not enough for retailers to compete against each other, these days, their battle is internal, as they struggle to reverse the trend leading shoppers online rather than in store.

In a recent survey by iVend Retail, only 13.2% of respondents say it’s more convenient to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. That dismal figure explains the equally paltry in-store sales numbers retailers have been posting lately.

Perks plus

Beyond convenience, shoppers are also lured online by the promise of discounts and other perks that aren’t available in stores. Nearly half (47.8%) of the 1,000 consumers surveyed across the U.S. and Canada report scoring deals online only, with no similar offers once they cross the retailer’s threshold.

But to be eligible for these offers, consumers must relinquish some personal information. For most, that’s a fair trade off. More than 68 percent are fine with stores tracking their purchase histories. Forty-one percent don’t have problem with stores monitoring their browser history. Roughly 30 percent are OK with stores knowing how much they’ve spent.

Shoppers are less willing to provide their cell numbers (8 percent) or allow stores to track their locations using their phones (13.9%).

Meanwhile, more than 11 percent said there’s no carrot big enough to justify any sort of data collection.

Omnichannel options

Increasingly, retailers are looking for ways to drive traffic from clicks to bricks. One bridge between the two is the buy online, pick up in store option.

The survey revealed 57.5% of shoppers have tried this service, and the bulk of them (65.3%) have done so to skirt shipping costs. Convenience and the ability to return items immediately, were also cited as motivating factors at 29.2% and 23.5%, respectively.

Hiccups in the process might hinder its adoption though. Less than a third of respondents had a “smooth” experience. That’s compared to 66 percent who would characterized online shopping as easy.

In-store incentives

Once they’re in stores, retailers clearly have some work to do to make consumers more willing to hang out—and return.

Shoppers’ No. 1 request is free Wi-Fi. Forty-six percent said that change alone would improve their overall experience. At 36.9% of respondents, in-store kiosks or digital help tools was another top request. Both of these appeals highlight a consumer who—thanks to the internet—is used to having product information at his/her fingertips.

Finally, they say ditch the paper. Customers are growing tired of coupons they have to clip and save. More than 33 percent of shoppers would prefer a mobile app that delivers discounts.

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