A new survey by Accenture Research challenges some commonly held assumptions about how consumers perceive online and in-store shopping, and indicate that retailers are struggling to create seamless, cross-channel consumer experiences.
The Seamless Consumer Retail Survey, an evaluation of 15,000 consumers across 20 countries, found that even though 46 percent of shoppers plan to purchase more online in the future, 28 percent also plan to do more in-store shopping. One-third reported buying more in-store merchandise presently than one year ago.
The shift toward in-store shopping was especially evident in mature markets with 16 percent of consumers indicating they now plan to shop more frequently in stores versus just nine percent last year.
Fewer consumers now cite “convenience” as the main reason for shopping online, the report revealed. An overwhelming 91 percent said it was easier to complete a purchase in-store, underscoring the rise of web-rooming (looking online, then buying in-store) and consumers’ preference for stores to curate their purchasing choices, rather than surfing the entire web for products.
As a result, the study also found that more than 60 percent of shoppers said they would increase their purchases if offered a personalized subscription program. “While emailed coupons and personalized, in-store offers resonate with a clear majority, similarly most said their buying decisions would be favorably influenced by advance notice of sales and birthday promotions,” Accenture noted.
However, shoppers do value the ability to reserve a product online before visiting the store, and the ability to check product availability across all channels in real time, indicating increasing demand for seamless shopping. In fact, 38 percent of the survey respondents named wanting a better seamless experience as a key issue. More than half of all global shoppers said they want access to services in-store via mobile devices, and 32 percent want some of the convenience online has to offer transferred to the store.
On the topic of customer loyalty, Accenture found more than 30 percent of consumers said their loyalty has increased over the past 12 months. Contrary to most other trends driving consumer behavior, technology was not a factor as the majority of shoppers ranked convenient location, product assortment, best price and good customer service as the top reasons for remaining loyal to a retailer. “Retailers’ understanding of assortment, pricing and promotions across channels–areas where at least half of all shoppers expect consistency–is equally important,” the report noted.