Bricks-and-mortar need to get more connected (Study)

Nearly a quarter of consumers feel let down by stores after shopping online

The rise of online shopping has given rise to consumer disappointment in the in-store experience, according to a new report by CitiXsys.

The global retail solutions company surveyed 1,000 consumers in Canada and the U.S., and 1,000 in five European countries. It published its findings in a report entitled Europe and North America: A study in Omnichannel Contrasts.

In the survey, 71% of North American consumers and about half in Europe said they find ecommerce significantly more convenient than shopping in bricks-and mortar stores. Overall, nearly a quarter (24% in North America and 22% in Europe) agreed with the statement that after shopping online, the store feels like a “let down.”

“It’s largely due to the convenience of online shopping, which has become ubiquitous in North America,” said Paula DaSilva, SVP of sales, Asia Pacific and the Americas, for iVend Retail (part of CitiXsys Worldwide). “While the majority of purchases still take place in a store… today’s shoppers have become accustomed to researching and purchasing online, then receive their parcel on their doorstep or via click-and-collect in store the next day.”

On top of that, “more sophisticated retailers are tracking their customers’ online shopping habits to accordingly reward shopper loyalty with coupons and targeted offers on the products they buy most,” added DaSilva. “Compare that to walking into a store anonymously and none of the sales associates have any concept of your level of loyalty. These inconsistencies in the bricks-and-mortar experience relative to online shopping is what’s driving the discontent.”

The survey also found North American consumers are shifting more of their shopping activity online compared to European consumers. For example, 73% of U.S. and Canadian consumers research a product at least once before going into a store, compared to 68% of European consumers. In addition, 34% of North American consumers like to use a smartphone to research more information while in the store, compared to 20% in Europe.

The report states that consumers want retailers to do more to connect their online and offline shopping experiences. Nearly half (46%) of American and Canadian consumers said they receive online offers based on what they buy, but don’t receive targeted offers in the store. In addition, 23% said they would like stores to give them a more personalized experience like they receive online.

Two thirds (67%) of North American consumers and 56% of European consumers said it’s important retailers have one view of them as a customer—both from online and in-store shopping history.

“Retailers can improve consumers’ experiences by bringing the best of the world of ecommerce into the bricks-and-mortar environment,” said DaSilva. “This means digitalizing bricks-and-mortar outlets, and using customer data and a single view of stock to deliver more tailored and connected interactions that make customer service faster, more efficient and more informative.”

Specifically, providing a better in-store experience can include opt-in offers and notifications sent to a shopper’s mobile device, and tablets for store associates to check stock across the store network and allow the customer to buy a product and have it shipped the next day.

“This reduces the ‘store-as-showroom’ syndrome by capturing that shopper’s purchase whether it is immediately available or not, and delivering a superior level of customer service,” said DaSilva.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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