Online Engagement Transforms Shoppers’ In-Store Expectations

shopper in store

As shoppers integrate digital technologies into their retail journeys before and after entering the store, their brick-and-mortar expectations are evolving.

PYMNTS’ Q1 eBook, “The Implications of Uncertainty,” draws on insights from 18 payments industry executives. Jeff Pomeroy, SVP and head of omnicommerce at Carat from Fiserv, spoke to how retailers are using data about shoppers’ behavior outside the physical store to improve the omnichannel journey.

“Understanding where shoppers are engaging before and after a purchase delivers greater insights into shopper behavior and can inform broader marketing and customer journey strategies,” Pomeroy wrote in the eBook.  “With these insights, merchants can determine the best way to reach their customers and identify adjacent products and services that could become part of their offerings.”

Many shoppers supplement their in-store journey with digital technology, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence study “2024 Global Digital Shopping Index: U.S. Edition,” created in collaboration with Visa Acceptance Solutions. The report, which draws from a survey of more than 2,400 U.S. consumers, found that close to 1 in 3 are Click-and-Mortar™ shoppers, opting for a purchasing journey that involves both digital tools and physical locations.

“More than half our customers start their journey on digital,” Andrew Laudato, chief operating officer at The Vitamin Shoppe, told PYMNTS in an interview last month. “Everybody starts with education and learning. … Some customers start in the store because we have a lot of expert knowledge in our stores, and then once they understand exactly what their regimen is, they will purchase online. … It’s all about omnichannel. Most customers have a digital component to their shopping journey.”

Retailers are leveraging technology to integrate their digital and physical channels and create cohesive experiences that bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. Some are even integrating digital screens into the in-store experience to connect the dots.

“What you want people to do is go to the internet and check [product information], because then it’s scalable and updated with the most recent info, with the most recent sale and everything, but the minute somebody takes out their phone, they have 70 notifications from Slack, Instagram email and texts that distract them,” Brandon Barton, CEO of self-service kiosk provider Bite, recently told PYMNTS.  “So, if you have a self-service kiosk that sits beside and is complementary to a retail experience, you blend online and offline in what I think is an elegant way for the consumer purchase journey.”

Plus, advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence enable retailers to deliver highly personalized shopping experiences tailored to individual preferences and behaviors. From personalized product recommendations to targeted marketing campaigns, consumers demand brands understand and cater to their unique needs and tastes.

“That’s what consumers are expecting right now. They expect that you know something about them, but you don’t want to know too much. You want it to be seamless,” Jennifer Slegers, director of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at Carhartt, told PYMNTS in March.

The PYMNTS Intelligence report “Personalized Offers Are Powerful — but Too Often Off-Base,” which drew on responses from more than 2,500 U.S. consumers, found that 83% of shoppers were interested in receiving personalized offers.

Additionally, the worldwide edition of the Global Digital Shopping Index study, which drew from a survey of nearly 14,000 consumers across seven countries, found that 75% of U.S. shoppers expect digital coupons to available for both in-store and online shopping.