Survey: Consumers shop stores and online, with expectations high for delivery, discounts

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 629 views 

Retail 3.0 is driven by consumers who demand top-notch shopping experiences in stores and online. A recent survey and report from advertising tech company Criteo compared shopper attitudes among more than 10,000 global consumers. Results indicate that 72% of consumers prefer to buy in stores before online, with 75% preferring to do as much shopping as possible online.

In short, consumers are doing both. Criteo asked the shoppers what got them into brick-and-mortar stores for those shopping occasions. Two-thirds, or 66%, said they shopped retailers with convenient locations. Nearly as many (60%) said they shopped physical stores in order to get the product immediately. The report said brick-and-mortar retailers can fill that need for immediacy more efficiently than the best online players like Amazon. Retailers in close proximity to consumers are the ones most likely to get the foot traffic.

Westrock retail strategist Leon Nicholas recently said Walmart’s traffic comps have been solid, in part because one-stop shopping solves a lot needs in a busy shopper’s life. He said consumers are shopping fewer retailers overall, and stores that offer the best overall prices and assortment are likely to win. He said retailers are also making services available at their stores and that is also a traffic driver.

“You can’t get your hair cut or car serviced online, but you can do it at a Walmart store,” Nicholas said.

The Criteo survey found 39% of consumers shop brick-and-mortar because of knowledgeable salespeople. While huge amounts of hardware sales have moved online, when a homeowner needs to fix a leaky drain plug in the family’s hot tub, the local Lowe’s or Home Depot store will likely have a salesperson to help the consumer find a solution.

Roughly a third of the consumers surveyed said they shop brick-and-mortar when there is a chance of finding unique merchandise. The same number said they shop physical stores so they can see, touch and try the product before they buy it. About a quarter of those surveyed said store design was important to them and 26% said they looked for displays that show how to use the product.

Criteo said retailers who sell services at brick-and-mortar will create customer loyalty. The report highlighted Walmart-owned Bonobos as a retailer conquering brick-and-mortar after being online just a few years ago.

“If you’re buying an expensive suit, the odds are that you’d rather see it in person before buying. Not only that, you might want advice about how it looks and what might work for you. Bonobos, which used to be purely an e-commerce business, now has locations that shoppers can visit to see the merchandise, talk to staff and then select which products should be ordered for them,” the report stated.

Apple stores and the sales staff in those locations were also mentioned in the report as was Nordstrom’s, who provides a personal stylist program that allows shoppers to book a one-on-one session with someone to help with wardrobe selections. Criteo said the genius is in creating relationships around the services. Criteo also recommends retailers wanting to draw shoppers to brick-and-mortar include virtual reality to create a shareable experience.

Ultimately, retailers need to make a sales conversion. It’s not enough to have foot traffic in stores if they don’t buy anything. Criteo said personalizing the shopper experience is one of the best ways to ensure consumers spend. Technology is the magic mirror that shows shoppers a 360-degree view of what they look like in a certain outfit is being used by more retailers today, according to Criteo.

“The technology is also being applied to cosmetics. Sephora has an app that allows shoppers to virtually apply lipstick. Shoppers can use their phone cameras and use a digital filter to try out different brands and shades of color. This also created a mobile experience which provides another touchpoint for shoppers to evaluate and buy,” the report said.

While brick-and-mortar remains key to retail success, consumers have said they do buy lots of items online and that is only going to increase. Criteo asked respondents what causes them to notice brands and make purchases when shopping online. The biggest reasons people say they shop online is for free shipping and discounts. More than two-thirds of the 10,000-plus consumers surveyed expect free shipping and discounts, despite online commerce and final-mile delivery being the least efficient way to sell an item. Amazon Prime membership has raised the expectation of free delivery in two days or less on millions of items.

Walmart U.S. E-Commerce CEO Marc Lore said last year two-day delivery for online purchases is “table stakes.” That said, no one can do that and make money, according to many supply chain experts. Walmart allows free in-store pickup or will deliver in two days with a minimum order of $35.

E-commerce websites that offer consumers appealing photos and relevant customer reviews are also popular with nearly half (48%) of those surveyed. One third said they want 360-degree photos for the items they buy online and one in five said they want a chat function to provide immediate feedback on product details and other questions from the shopper. Criteo said online shoppers have little patience and if they can’t find what they like they will bounce from one site to another until satisfied with the product, price, and delivery options.

“Every retailer and brand should constantly test their websites to make it as easy as possible to make a purchase,” the report states.

Criteo warns having the right stuff and making it easy to find is just part of the conversion equation because it has to have the right price and delivery terms to satisfy the shopper or they will simply click on another site.