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Survey: Nearly 80% of Consumers Still ‘Primarily’ In-Store Shoppers

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Much has been written about the decline of traditional retailers, although they reportedly had a good Xmas. And while store closings are definitely still happening, the death of traditional retail has been greatly exaggerated. What is very clear is that retailers need to focus on an improved in-store experience, as well as online + offline synergies to attract and retain shoppers (strategy and execution are the challenges).

Recent survey data (fall and winter 2017) from The National Retail Federation (NRF) explore consumer attitudes about retail technology and the reasons for coming into stores. And while many of the survey questions have been asked repeatedly over the years (“why do you shop in stores?”), the findings offer some nuances that are important to understand.

Comparison of online vs. in-store shoppers

Screen Shot 2018-01-17 at 6.55.11 AM

The survey found that 21% of US consumers are “primarily online shoppers, purchasing more than half of their items online.” The other 79% report buying “half or less of the items they need online.” In addition, Generation Z is more “store-friendly” than its predecessors but also has a higher percentage of members (34%) who purchase at least half of their items online.

About half of consumers are visiting stores more often than they did a year ago — although that may be more a function of a good economy than anything else. The top reasons Millennials and Generation Z say they’re visiting stores more often are the following:

  • A new retail store or shopping center opened near me — 52%
  • Entertainment or food options — 49%
  • I’m using buy online and pick up in store — 45%

Younger shoppers are more likely to go to stores to browse and socialize than older shoppers, according to the survey, which found overall that 73% of respondents are motivated to go into stores for specific reasons.
NRF consumer survey 2017

The most popular among those specific reasons are:

  • Needed something “right away”
  • Prefer to shop in store
  • Wanted to see item before buying

The following chart shows what people want from store experiences: find products quickly, good customer service, simple/fast checkout and the ability to touch and feel products (implying that “showrooms” may be one way forward).

NRF consumer survey 2017
Though the survey didn’t address this, I’m convinced that exposing local inventory online is a key to getting people to come into stores. If I can see that an item is available near me it’s much more likely that I’ll go into that store. One of the reasons people shop at Amazon (beyond free shipping with Prime) is that they have confidence that Amazon “carries” what they’re seeking.

Local inventory mobile phone

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