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Despite online shopping, physical stores still relevant
04
Feb '14
Even as online shopping continues to grow, more U.S. shoppers are planning to make purchases from physical stores, according to the results of the latest study of “seamless retailing” by Accenture. In a survey of 750 adult consumers, 21 percent of U.S. shoppers said they plan to increase their in-store purchasing, up from just nine percent of shoppers in the previous year. Asked to name what retailers need to improve the most in the overall shopping experience, 40 percent of respondents ranked improving the in-store shopping experience first, compared to just 16 percent who said the same of online shopping.
 
“The survey results indicate that retailers have an opportunity to increase in-store sales but only if they make the experience worthwhile for consumers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Consumers are looking for the conveniences of shopping online, such as information on product availability, to be available in-store. 
 
“The lines between the different shopping channels are blurring, but the good news for traditional retailers is that the store continues to play an important role. In order to ensure that they offer shoppers a seamless retail experience, bricks and mortar/high street retailers must work hard to differentiate the shopping experience they offer compared to the online pure-plays.”
 
Accenture’s study identified a number of key trends:
 
Bringing the Online Experience into the Store
More shoppers are looking to take advantage of seamless retail services involving the store: In the most recent survey, 19 percent of shoppers said they are using “click and collect” services (reserving or buying an item online and then traveling to a store to collect it) more often than in the previous year, compared to 12 percent who said the same in the 2012 survey. Additionally, more shoppers (14 percent compared to seven percent) are buying in-store and having the product shipped to their home.
 
The ability to check product availability online before traveling to a store isthe service that would most improve the shopping experience for 31 percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed. And, the vast majority of respondents (89 percent) said they would either travel to a store to make a purchase or buy online if retailers offered real-time information on product availability.
 
Showrooming vs Webrooming
Shoppers are “webrooming” more than “showrooming” across all product categories, except grocery. Accenture’s study found that 78 percent of U.S. shoppers had webroomed (browsing online and then going to a store to make their purchase) in the 12 months before the latest survey, while 72 percent had showroomed (going into a physical store to see a product and then searching online for a better price and making their purchase online). The proportion of shoppers who engaged in webrooming for making consumer electronics and home improvement purchases increased significantly from 2012 – from 39 percent to 48 percent, and 25 percent to 35 percent, respectively.


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