Merchant Innovation

Why Shoppers Still Prefer Bricks Over Clicks

There may be plenty of life left in the bricks-and-mortar retail business model, according to details of a study released Monday (May 18) by TimeTrade, an online appointment scheduling solutions company, which concluded that a majority of shoppers still prefer the in-store experience over e-tailers.

In the report, titled the “State of Retail,” TimeTrade surveyed the shopping attitudes and experiences of more than 1,000 consumers. Of that tally, more than 70 percent said they would prefer to browse and shop at a brick-and-mortar Amazon store over Amazon.com. A whopping 90 percent said they would be more likely to make a purchase when being assisted by an in-store, knowledgeable associate – which points to the value of human expertise, the study suggested.

And in what might offset the conventional view of millennials as a gadget-obsessed demographic that seeks unfettered access to digital experiences, 92 percent of responding millennials plan to shop at least as often in-store this year as they did in 2014. Mobile purchasing may not be the growth area some industry watchers expect as TimeTrade noted that only 13 percent of consumers surveyed had made purchases using mobile devices.

But that doesn’t mean digital isn’t important to evolving the bricks-and-mortar experience.

“With exponential adoption rates of mobile devices, harnessing the opportunity across the customer journey will be the ultimate game changer,” Sheryl Kingstone, Director at 451 Research, said in a news release. “Retailers need to bridge digital interactions with brick-and-mortar interactions with new innovative technologies along business process changes.”

And personal experience plays a big part in why customers are attracted to physical stores.

“The bottom line is customers value the personal experience of the physical store,” said Gary Ambrosino, TimeTrade’s CEO, in a statement released alongside the study. “We found that shoppers have done their shopping or discovery online, then go into the store to get help with their final purchase decision.”

Key to retailing success, TimeTrade recommends, will be a cross-channel strategy that blends both traditional physical shopping and eCommerce. As PYMNTS noted earlier this year, physical retail presence – and the ability to bring the tactile to online shopping via an omni-channel experience – remains a key differentiator in what people buy, and when.

“We see retail convergence – the coming together of digital and physical retailing – as a game changing trend,” Ambrosino said. “Traditional e-tailers are opening brick-and-mortar locations because they understand very well the highly personal service they can offer in a store and traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are creating more personal, digital-savvy experiences in the store to better serve today’s shopper.”

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Latest Insights: 

The Which Apps Do They Want Study analyzes survey data collected from 1,045 American consumers to learn how they use merchant apps to enhance in-store shopping experiences, and their interest in downloading more in the future. Our research covered consumers’ usage of in-app features like loyalty and rewards offerings and in-store navigation, helping to assess how merchants can design apps to distinguish themselves from competitors.

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