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Want More Shoppers? Feed the Senses.

E-commerce may be stealing the spotlight from brick-and-mortar, but many consumers still prefer the sights, sounds and feel of physical stores.

According to Mood Media’s “The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017” study, consumers are choosing brick-and-mortar stores over online platforms because of their engaging atmospheres and experiences. The study, which surveyed over 11,000 consumers worldwide, found that consumers like the convenience, discovery and personalized treatment of physical stores as well as the memorable experiences they offer.

“Consumers, particularly younger consumers, aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience. And their expectations for a positive, emotionally engaging experience are quite high,” Mood Media global SVP of marketing Scott Moore said. “Those businesses who deliver an elevated Customer Experience witness greater repeat visits, a greater number of recommendations and longer in-store dwell times.”

Unlike e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores tap into consumers’ needs for tactile interactions

Seventy-two percent of Americans said the ability to feel, touch and try products was their top reason to shop in stores, while 78 percent of consumers worldwide cited this as a motive as well. And even though physical stores are taking on more technology, 26 percent of U.S. shoppers still prefer to speak with sales associates and have human interactions on their shopping trips.

Convenience and the joy of discovering items in person was also a key driver for shopping at stores. Sixty-six percent of U.S. consumers felt that getting a product instantly was a top reason for going to stores, while 48 percent said browsing and finding new products drove them to shop at brick-and-mortar locations. What’s more, 54 percent of U.S. consumers said in-store discounts drive them to make impulse purchases on their shopping trip.

In line with experience, convenience and discovery, a store’s atmosphere was another major factor for consumer activity.

One in five consumers worldwide said they choose to shop in stores over online for the enjoyable atmosphere. Particularly in the U.S., one-third of 18-year-old to 24-year-old consumers said the atmosphere, along with experience, were the top reasons to choose brick-and-mortar outposts over e-commerce sites.

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For instance, 51 percent of respondents said music is a critical in-store ingredient. Overall, 84 percent of U.S. consumers said music makes the shopping experience more enjoyable.

Just as atmosphere can enhance a shopping trip, it can also detract from it. Waiting in line was the top in-store frustration for U.S. consumers, with 60 percent agreeing that this drove them away from physical stores. Out of stock items also annoyed most consumers, with 47 percent agreeing that not finding the right size prompted them to shop online. Other factors consumers found irritating included a too-busy store environment (43 percent), unhelpful staff (33 percent) and inconvenient store hours (22 percent).

As shown with the study, atmosphere and experience are key drivers for consumers frequenting stores over e-commerce platforms. If retailers are able to tap into consumers’ needs for convenience, new products and a great environment, they can not only gain more business, but keep consumers coming back for more in today’s competitive marketplace.