What now for in-store shopping?

We have seen a lot of discussion in the press recently over the roles of various shopping channels and the future of the entire shopping experience. It’s a fact that there seems to have been a real gear shift in terms of online shopping. The headline ‘the death of the high-street’ has been bandied about with the growth of online shopping being cited as signalling the end of shopping as we traditionally know it. Here at Retail Maxim we thought it would be interesting to understand the motivations of UK shoppers who still shop in-store, such as how frequently they are shopping and what motivates them to shop in-store. Our aim is to get a bit more perspective on the situation.

To learn more about the changing trends in online versus in-store shopping behaviours, we conducted a survey of over 1000 UK consumers. We asked our pollsters which statement best described them in relation to HOW they shop for products. The results came in as follows:

  1. I shop BOTH instore and online frequently – 37%
  2. I shop instore frequently BUT not as much online – 39%
  3. I shop online frequently BUT not as much instore – 12%
  4. I don’t shop online or instore frequently – 12%

In spite of the fact that the press commonly report the impact of online shopping on the in-store experience, on a positive note, our research points to the fact that a large proportion of shoppers are still frequently attracted in-store.

What our results also show is that a large proportion of consumers frequently shop (at least once per week) both instore AND online. Therefore, it seems that it is not simply a case of consumers shopping online OR shopping in-store, it’s about shoppers buying from a brand in the way they want to at any particular point in time. That may be in-store one week and it may be online another. It may, of course, also very much depend on the product in question.

So, let’s just pause to access what’s going on here. Bricks-and-mortar retailers should be heartened by the fact that such a sizeable segment of consumers are shopping in-store frequently. This then begs the question, what is it about shopping in-store that attracts people? We explored this in detail and asked our poll. Our results indicate the top reason, with 64%, was the tactile experience, such as ‘I like to see, hold and try on products before I buy’. This was followed by immediacy, with 46%, expressed as “I don’t have to wait for products to be delivered”.

So what are some of the other reasons consumers turn to in-store shopping? Good old-fashioned retail therapy. In fact 50% of the respondents said that they simply enjoy browsing stores. It’s about the EXPERIENCE and that’s something that retailers can very much control.

So, looking at the results overall, it would appear that in-store shopping is far from dead despite what many have feared. But it is changing somewhat. While we know that more sales are done online each year, there are still clear advantages to the bricks and mortar store experience which will continue to make in-store shopping a viable and even preferable option for many, depending on the nature of the product and the preferences of the individual. The key is for retailers to embrace those characteristics of the store experience which consumers value most, improving them to provide the best experience possible. There is an old saying ‘you get what you measure’. That’s why Retail Maxim offers a range of customer experience measurement solutions. Please feel free to contact us for more information on how we can help you to monitor, develop and improve your customers’ experiences.