Retailers that deliver on customers' expectations and provide a seamless shopping experience – whether in-store, online or through a mobile device – will win loyalty and gain a competitive advantage that drives sales, according to new research by Accenture.
The Accenture Seamless Retail Study
found that half (49%) of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. The majority (89%) of consumers said it is important for retailers to let them shop for products in the way that is most convenient for them, regardless of which sales channel they choose.
Consumers remain confident on the in-store shopping experience: almost all survey participants (94%) found in-store shopping easy. They are less confident, however, about the experience with other shopping channels: 74% said online shopping is easy, but only one-quarter (26%) found the mobile phone shopping experience easy.
The Seamless Experience
Regardless of the original shopping touchpoint – in-store, online or mobile – consumers expect interaction with retailers to be a customized, uncomplicated and instantaneous experience. The research also indicates that consistency weighs heavily on the consumer experience. For example, 73% of consumers expect a retailer's online pricing to be the same as in-store pricing, and 61% expect a retailer's online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.
A benchmark analysis by Accenture indicated that 73% offer the same promotions online as in-store, and only 16% offer the same prices online as they do in-store. An additional 43% of consumers surveyed expect a retailer to offer the same product assortment online as they do in the store, while only 19% of retailers actually offer the same product assortment.
Showrooming vs. Webrooming
The survey found that as online shopping continues to grow as a consumer preference, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between stores and online channels. For example, in the six months prior to the survey, 73% of respondents said that they participated in the practice of showrooming, or browsing at least once in-store and then buying online. However, 88% said they participated in "webrooming", or browsing first on the internet then buying in-store.
When asked what kind of information would be useful to have from retailers before going to a physical store, 82% of consumers chose having access to current product availability, but only 21% of retailers offer that information. The survey also found that 30% of shoppers want retailers to provide a crowd indicator that would allow them to know how busy the store is.
Additional survey findings include:
· 94% find shopping in-store easy. This is higher than the 74% who find shopping online easy.
· 47% want visibility to in-store inventory to check products prior to making shopping trips.
· 61% will buy products online after hours, but 36% will buy it online from that retailer's website and only 22% will shop online for the best price.
· 73% expect the same pricing across channels and 61% expect the same promotions across channels.
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