The death of physical retail stores has been greatly exaggerated. Although there have been many store closures and bankruptcies, some retailers (eg, Macys, Target) have recently released solid results and are seeing more customers in store. In addition, store openings have been created for some channels.
But there is no question that physical retail must evolve to thrive in the context of e-commerce and increasingly demanding buyers. The groundtruth location intelligence company recently published a report based on a survey that illuminates areas in which retailers must invest to maintain the competitiveness of their stores.
Customers hate checkout lines
Based on a survey of 2,000 US consumers, the report identified significant issues related to offline retail, including crowds and long lines. He also ranked a number of factors that, according to consumers, would make store shopping a better experience:
Quick check – 81 percent
Free crate – 76%
Good customer service / helpful sellers – 66%
Example of things I might want to buy – 64%
Ability to buy online and withdraw in store – 58%
Technology I can try (kiosks, games, virtual reality) – 45%
Experiences and entertainment (music, videos, interactive displays) – 41%
Events (pop-ups, workshops, courses) – 33%
Although not wanting to deal with crowds and lines, the majority of survey respondents still preferred to purchase in-store items in most categories. The exceptions were the categories of electronics, clothing and, surprisingly, furniture, where people were more agnostic.
Not discussed in the survey report, one of the unpublished stories of electronic commerce relates to the role of the store in eliminating the risks associated with online shopping. Buyers often buy online from traditional retailers because they can return products offline if they are not satisfied.
Purchasing preferences by the consumer
The importance of good service
The role of store service is another area covered in the report. The survey revealed that a quality service could retain customer loyalty, with 81% of respondents saying they would probably return to a store where the service is "exceptional". In addition, 75% said they would be likely to recommend this store / brand. to friends or family members when they have excellent customer service.
The notion that service is important to buyers is both well-established empirically and intuitively, although many retailers have for years reduced their costs by reducing the skill level of their store associates. There are, of course, clear exceptions to this. But many retail workers are present to manage cash registers or answer very simple questions rather than providing real advice or input to purchase decisions.
GroundTruth's findings argue that retailers should invest in technology to enable faster verification and hire sales and support staff that can really be useful to in-store buyers.
Consumers plan to continue shopping in stores
In all categories, the majority of survey respondents stated that they had the intention of maintaining or increasing store shopping levels. The categories likely to increase the percentage of e-commerce spending are shoes, clothing and electronics.
Planned change in future purchasing preferences
Finally, retailers have always considered in-store buyers more useful than online shoppers. This is because they are more likely to buy additional items when they are present or they are returning past purchases. The survey provided further validation for this perception: 38% of those surveyed said they spent more in the store, while only 18% said they spent more money online. The remaining 44% estimated that they spent an equivalent amount online and in-store.
About the author
Greg Sterling is a writer with Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog, Screenwerk on the link between digital media and consumer behavior in the real world. He is also vice president of strategy and prospects for the local research association. Follow him on Twitter or find him at Google+ .