Why Shoppers Prefer Bricks-and-Mortar

Posted: November 27, 2018

We can’t stress enough the importance of brick-and-mortar to the shopping public. Of course, shopping online offers consumers the perks of convenience that in-store buying doesn’t. At the beginning of the year, PwC’s Annual Consumer Survey found that 56% of respondents were most likely to purchase products online instead of in person because of lower prices and better deals the digital sites had to offer, plus 46% liked the fact that they could shop online 24/7. Better product options and a wider assortment of merchandise were also popular reasons for online buying.

The survey also discovered that almost 40 percent of consumers make purchases inside a physical store at least once a week, compared to just 27 percent who do the same online. The research found that 65 percent of consumers said they shop in-store to avoid delivery fees, while more than 60 percent said it allows them to have the item immediately. Additionally, 61 percent said they like trying on the item or seeing it in person before buying it.

Interestingly, while many experts thought show-rooming spelled the death of the physical store, since stores were places to display items for online purchase, PwC’s retail and consumer practice leader, Steven Barr, said, “This year’s survey results reveal that the online shop has also become a showroom where shoppers research and compare prices for later, in-store purchases.”

In addition, more than three in 10 shoppers would prefer to go to a retail store to pick up items purchased via online or mobile channels. At the store, consumers are very interested in Wi-Fi and location-based, in-store services such as mobile coupons (51%), shopping maps (45%) and associate assistance (41%).

Among U.S. internet users polled by mobile app Shopular at the end of last year, 63.6% said they planned to do the bulk of their retail purchasing in-store this year, vs. 36.4% who said they’d do most online.

More recently, the annual Global Shopper Study from mobile solutions provider Zebra Technologies Corp., noted that more than three-quarters of shoppers feel positive about shopping in stores and nearly one-half think that technology solutions are helping retailers enable and improve their shopping experience.

But, in other cases, people feel disconnects to the physical store. The study revealed that more than one-third of shoppers (34%) believe they are better connected to real-time information than in-store associates. Meanwhile, 64% of shoppers would be willing to purchase more merchandise if they received better customer service and 52% value retailers who use technology to make the in-store experience more efficient.

This is a big wake-up call the industry has been talking about for some time and they’re fixes that are within reasonable reach for almost any retailer, no matter the size. Time and time again, customer service ranks very highly among consumers—and they’re willing to pay for it. So why is it that this essential human element still seems to be a black hole for some retailers?

While most brick-and-mortar stores can’t be open all night for shopping convenience, there are other things retailers can do to keep the shopper in-store, like providing better access to inventory; equipping sales associates with mobile devices to look up availability of out-of-stock items in another store; and competitive pricing, which, when possible, can help stores strengthen their lead over digital retail channels.

Other important take-aways from the survey were that retailers can recover 66% of out-of-stock disappointments by offering shoppers an instant discount; almost 8 in 10 respondents are willing to share information with retailers—but most shoppers also admitted that their level of trust in giving retailers personal information was very low. But this can also be rectified, as 64% of shoppers really value retailers who give the flexibility to control how their personal data is used to tailor shopping experiences.