New York -- Retailers that deliver on their customers’ expectations and provide them with a seamless shopping experience – whether they are shopping in a store, online or through a mobile device – will win their loyalty and gain a competitive advantage that drives sales, according to new research by Accenture.
The Accenture Seamless Retail Study found that consumers remain bullish on the in-store shopping experience: Almost all survey participants (94%) found in-store shopping easy. They are less bullish, however, about their experience with other shopping channels: 74% said online shopping is easy, but only 26% found the mobile phone shopping experience easy.
Nearly 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. An overwhelming 89% of consumers said it is important for retailers to let them shop for products in the way that is most convenient for them, no matter which sales channel they choose.
“Seamlessness is a tall order for most traditional retailers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “In many cases we have found a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality, but we believe seamlessness is achievable. Traditional retailers must take stock of their operational capabilities. They require a presence at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns.”
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 its in-store pricing, and 61% expect a retailer’s online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.
Despite these findings, a benchmark analysis by Accenture of the top retailers globally indicated that while 73% offer the same promotions online as in the store, only 16% offer the same prices online as they do in the store. Additionally, while 43% of consumers surveyed expect a retailer to offer the same product assortment online as they do in the store, only 19% of retailers actually offer the same product assortment, according to Accenture’s analysis of top retailers.
In other survey findings:
- In the six months prior to the survey, 73% of respondents indicated that they participated in “showrooming”, browsing at least once in-store and then buying online, and 88% said they participated in “web-rooming,” or browsing first on the Internet then buying in-store.
- 43% of all U.S. consumers plan to shop more online and 23% plan to shop more with their mobile phones in the future.
- With regards to what kind of information they would like from retailers before going to a physical store, 82% of consumers selected having access to current product availability as their top choice. However, the Accenture research showed that this is offered by only 21% of retailers. 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.
“Stores remain a crucial asset by which traditional players can differentiate themselves from the online pure-play retailers,” said Donnelly. “They can serve as a showcase for desirable brands and places where customers can enjoy an experience and social interactions.”