Shoppers seeking online experience in the store

4 min

Retailers are increasingly placing the in-store shopping experience in the hands of shoppers and based on a survey shoppers are preferring the do-it-yourself experience.

That's the key finding from a Reflect survey that polled 1,600 Americans through two days of online interaction. Respondents were asked multiple choice questions about shopping preferences and how in-store signage influences as well as the amount of time spent within physical retail stores.

Key survey findings from the survey included:

  • 46% prefer a more DIY shopping experience with self-service options.
  • 83% believe informative digital screens would save them time during shopping trips.
  • 75% said they would be more likely to shop in person if a store had interactive screens with product information, location, product comparisons, and reviews.
  • 56% said product reviews would be the most helpful feature from online shopping they would like to see in store with price comparison second at 39 percent.

In the report's executive summary, Reflect said the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed technology innovation into overdrive.

"Many speculate that being forced to shut down and find alternatives for productivity has sped up digital transformation in some industries by as many as five years," the summary said.

The pandemic has also made working remotely for many employees sustainable and a long-term option. While people became more comfortable working online, based on the survey, they're feeling good about shopping online as well. Reflect reported 60% prefer buying items over the internet. The company said that percentage has not changed much in the past few years.

That number, however, is not all bad news for brick-and-mortar retailers.

"Despite their preference for shopping online or in person, almost all consumers say the right technologies could lure them back to the physical location," Reflect said in the report.

Most shoppers enjoy the digital experience because of convenience. They have the ability to compare prices and products with a few easy clicks. Online consumers can also check out product reviews; read what gets high marks and which items fall short. They also don't have to deal with customer service representatives or sales associates the moment they enter the store.

In its survey questions, Reflect asked respondents what would happen if retailers adapted most of what shoppers liked online and deliver it to physical stores? Would it be enough to drive online consumers back to brick-and-mortars? The answer: yes.

"There's something about being able to touch a product – to hold it, to see its size, to feel its weight, to inspect its quality – that consumers crave," Reflect said in the report.

The survey found 67% of shoppers miss the in-store experience that one simply can't get online.

Consumers want more aspects of the digital experience to be featured in the store. They yearn for the quick information, product and price comparison data, and customer reviews they can access online. Most, based on the survey, are not afraid of self-service. They embrace it.

"Of those respondents who do most of their shopping online, nearly 50% said that informative, interactive displays would be the most enticing feature for them to shop in person," the report said.

Door open for digital signage

According to Reflect, the findings present exciting opportunities for digital signage and that displays have transformed from a feature retailers considered "nice to have" to a must to grab consumers' attention.

"Among young shoppers, those 18 to 44 and most likely to shop online, digital screens were noticed exactly as often as print signage," according to the report. Reflect also believes there's an opportunity for retailers to capture new shoppers.

Of shoppers who said digital displays are the most noticeable in-store feature:

  • 87% would shop more in person if stores had interactive screens that provide product information, comparisons and reviews.
  • 90% preferred stores that don't require them to interact with store employees and 50% would be more likely to shop in store if the retailers offered self-service options.
  • More than 90% believe digital screens would save time during their shopping visits.

Millennials driving DIY shopping

It's probably no surprise that generationally, millennials are pushing for changes to the in-store experience more than any other group. They just want the right technology.

"That's a statistic that should be a boon to retailers since it indicated they haven't lost some of their younger customers, something that leaders in other industries surely wish they could say," the report said.

To bolster this claim, the survey found:

  • 80% of millennials prefer to shop at stores that allow them to self-serve.
  • 80% of shoppers under 30 are more likely to shop in person than online if a store had interactive screens with product information, comparisons and/or reviews.
  • More than 70% of millennials said they would like to see online shopping features in stores, such as product reviews, recommendations based on current and past purchases, customer reviews and product comparisons.
  • 84% of millennials said having these types of informative screens at retails locations would save time during shopping trips.
  • Only 14% of respondents under 30 cited customer service as a reason to shop in-store.

While most purchases still occur in physical stores, Reflect warns that retailers shouldn't rest on their laurels. Digital shopping will likely continue to grow and retailers will be pushed to adapt.

"Using technology that many large retailers already have in place – digital signage – they can give those shoppers the online, self-serve experience they like in the physical store," Reflect said in the summary.

 

This article was written by Kevin Damask from Digital Signage Today. News Features and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.