MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Accenture: More shoppers to purchase in-store

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Even as online shopping continues to grow, more U.S. shoppers are planning to make purchases from physical stores in 2014, according to a survey by Accenture. In the “seamless retailing” study, 21% of U.S. shoppers said they plan to increase their in-store purchasing, up from just 9% in last year’s study.

But there is plenty of room for improvement in physical stores. Asked what retailers need to improve the most, 40% of respondents ranked improving the in-store shopping experience first, compared to just 16% who said the same of online shopping.

“The survey results indicate that retailers have an opportunity to increase in-store sales but only if they make the experience worthwhile for consumers,” said Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Consumers are looking for the conveniences of shopping online, such as information on product availability, to be available in-store.”

Donnelly said that while the lines between the different shopping channels are blurring, the good news for traditional retailers is that the store continues to play an important role.

“In order to ensure that they offer shoppers a seamless retail experience, bricks and mortar/high street retailers must work hard to differentiate the shopping experience they offer compared to the online pure-plays,” he said.

In a key trend, the study found that more shoppers are looking to take advantage of seamless retail services involving the store: Nineteen percent of shoppers said they are using “click and collect” services more often than in the previous year. Additionally, more shoppers (14% compared to 7% last year) are buying in-store and having the product shipped to their home.

Here are some other key findings of the survey:

• The ability to check product availability online before traveling to a store is the service that would most improve the shopping experience for 31% of U.S. shoppers surveyed. And, the vast majority of respondents (89%) said they would either travel to a store to make a purchase or buy online if retailers offered real-time information on product availability.

• More than half – 57% – of respondents said that waiting for free delivery was the most important delivery option. Of those shoppers looking for next-day delivery only 38% said they were willing to pay more than $10 for that convenience, and 14% said they believe the service should be free.

However, more shoppers expect the length of time they have to wait for free delivery to be reduced. In Accenture’s 2012 study, just 25% of respondents said they expected a free-delivery purchase to arrive within one to five days. In the latest survey, that number jumped to 44%.

“Services from the online pure-play retailers that offer faster delivery in return for an annual subscription, are having a profound impact on shoppers’ expectations,” Donnelly said. “Free delivery remains a crucial factor for a significant number of shoppers but they are not always willing to wait as long to get it.”

• Seventy-eight percent of shoppers had webroomed (browsing online and then going to a store to make their purchase) in the 12 months before the latest survey, while 72% had showroomed (going into a physical store to see a product and then searching online for a better price and making their purchase online). The proportion of shoppers who engaged in webrooming for making consumer electronics and home improvement purchases increased significantly from 2012 – from 39% to 48%, and 25% to 35%, respectively.

• Fifty-one percent of shoppers expect a retailer’s product offerings to be the same across different shopping channels, up from 43% in 2012. More than half (57%) also expect promotions to be the same across channels and 69% expect prices to be the same.

However, only 31% of shoppers said that their customer accounts were completely connected across in-store and online channels, and just 32% said that they were able to earn and use loyalty points across multiple channels. In addition, the proportion of shoppers who believe they will secure a better price online rose from 21% to 31%.

“Delivering a seamless experience across all retail touch points remains both a key challenge and prime opportunity for retailers today,” said Donnelly. “Those retailers able to integrate the physical store with the rest of their digital capabilities, and who also use analytics to support new models of customer engagement and personalized service, can gain a true competitive advantage.”

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Hhgregg CFO Jeremy J. Aguilar lands at Sports Authority

BY CSA STAFF

Sports Authority has named Jeremy J. Aguilar as CFO. Aguilar was most recently at Hhgregg, where he has been CFO since 2009.

“Jeremy’s expertise in finance and accounting will play a critical role in further strengthening Sports Authority,” said CEO Michael E. Foss. “He will be a valuable asset to the team; we are thrilled to have him on board.”

Aguilar served in several roles at Hhgregg, including as interim CFO, VP and controller and director of financial reporting. He was involved in the company’s initial public offering as its controller in 2008. As CFO, he led a secondary stock offering and had ongoing involvement with equity analysts. Earlier in his career, Aguilar worked at KPMG LLP. He has a BS in accounting and computer information systems from Indiana University and will be relocating to Denver from Indianapolis.

Andrew S. Giesler was named interim CFO at Hhgregg last month when Aguilar announced his plans to leave the company.

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Digital Retail Lessons from the Cold Weather Super Bowl

BY Dan Berthiaume

As we look back on the first-ever outdoor cold weather Super Bowl, there are several lessons digital retailers can take away from how the NFL, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks all prepared for what many said was an impossible or foolish undertaking. Some of the same steps these entities took to ensure a successful experience playing the Super Bowl is subfreezing conditions apply to retailers ensuring a successful digital experience for their customers, regardless of naysayers.

Flexibility Keeps Things Running
While the weather cooperated enough to allow the Super Bowl to be played on the scheduled Sunday, Feb. 2 date, the NFL used flexible scheduling to ensure catastrophic weather on that day would not cancel the entire game. The NFL had the option of playing the Super Bowl on any day between Friday, Jan. 31 and Monday, Feb. 3. Some purists scoffed at the notion of a Super Bowl being played on a day other than Sunday, but this flexibility ensured the fans would get a game.

Similarly, digital retailers must be flexible enough to provide customers with their desired experience, regardless of the circumstances. A seamless retail strategy must account for feature phones as well as smartphones, and be accessible from every tablet operating system, desktop PCs and any other point the customer chooses, including the physical store. Otherwise, potentially valuable customers will be shut out the way football fans could have been shut out of a Super Bowl had the NFL not built flexibility into the schedule.

Adapt Your Strategy to the Climate
While press deadlines prevent me from commenting on the actual play of the game, suffice it to say both teams at least prepared game plans heavily dependent on running, which generally works much better than passing in bad weather. They adapted their strategy to the climate.

Digital retailers must take the same realistic and adaptive approach to their seamless retailing strategies. “Climate” in this case can include actual weather conditions, as well as other variables such as customer demographics, broader social trends, and any other external influencers on how you digitally engage customers. An unexpected bout of poor weather may necessitate the ability for an apparel retailer to make real-time pricing adjustments to warm-weather clothing, or a move to an area with a new customer demographic may require a shift in how customers are presented with online incentives for in-store shopping.

Realize Your Intrinsic Value
While many pundits, including a number of former NFL players, made a lot of noise about how “stupid” the idea of playing the Super Bowl outdoors in cold weather was, the fact remains that it still holds huge value for advertisers and fans. The weather had no impact on the NFL’s ability to charge exorbitant sums for TV coverage rights, TV ads, and tickets. When something has a strong enough intrinsic value to the consumer, that value will sustain itself through any platform.

Digital retailers need to remember that their seamless retailing strategies should build upon the strengths of the intrinsic value of their brand, products or services. Even if a retailer sells a product that does not easily translate into the digital realm (such as food), channels such as mobile and social can still promote their brand value and boost profits by driving customers to stores without diluting their strengths in traditional channels.


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