STORE SPACES

Study: Why shoppers choose offline over online

BY Marianne Wilson

Physical stores still have some key benefits over online retail.

An overwhelming majority (72%) of U.S. consumers cite “the ability to touch, feel and try products” as their top reason for shopping brick-and-mortar. That's according to a new study by Mood Media, “The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017,” which reveals consumer insights regarding the in-store customer experience and in-store shopping behaviors. The study is based on a survey of more than 11,000 consumers in nine countries across the globe, including Australia, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mood commissioned the survey to better understand what influences consumers’ decisions to choose brick-and-mortar over online shopping, what they most enjoy and don’t enjoy about the in-store experience and what most motivates them in the physical store. The study also explores the influence of a store’s atmosphere – including music – on the overall shopping experience.

“The tangible, tactile nature of brick and mortar is still viewed as a very real advantage, as is the desire for instant gratification,” said Scott Moore, global senior VP of marketing for Mood Media.

The study also reveals that shopping as a form of entertainment remains important to the majority of people around the world, particularly among younger ones. In the U.S., one in three shoppers aged 18-24 rated the “atmosphere and experience” as a top reason they choose in-store over online shopping.

"Consumers, particularly younger consumers, aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience," said Moore. "Those businesses who deliver an elevated customer experience witness greater repeat visits, a greater number of recommendations and longer in-store dwell times.”

Some highlights of the study include:

• Waiting in line is the top in-store frustration of U.S. shoppers, at 60%. Items or sizes being out of stock ranked second, at 47%.

• If a store is playing music, 84% of U.S. consumers cite that “the shopping experience is more enjoyable;” 81% say that their “mood is lifted;” and 70% express that they “feel like it’s a brand they can relate and connect to.” And 77% said waiting in line is less dull if music is playing.

• Nearly half of U.S. respondents (46%) confirmed that they would like to be able to influence the music playing in-store.

• When music is partnered with visuals and scent to create a branded in-store atmosphere, 59% of U.S. respondents surveyed say they’re more likely to “revisit” (72% of those aged 18-24), and 54% say they’re more likely to “recommend the place to others” (65% of those aged 18-24).

• Also, 60% of 18-24 year olds cited that an enjoyable, branded in-store atmosphere would make them more likely to “stay (and shop) in the store longer.”

• Fifty percent of U.S. consumers surveyed would like to receive immediately redeemable discounts pushed to their phones while in-store. Interest in receiving among 18-24 year olds came in even higher, at 67%.

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STORE SPACES

Up Close: Shoppers review Lidl

BY Marianne Wilson

If it's true that first impressions are lasting ones, Lidl should be breathing easy.

Retail auditing firm Field Agent sent a handful of its agents to check out the 10 stores Lidl opened on Thursday, June 15, across North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina. The majority of the Field Agent "QuickShop" shoppers reacted positively to their first experience with the German retailer. (To see the related Field Agent video, click here.)The sample ranked Lidl above competitors Aldi, Walmart, and Kroger as a grocery shopping option.

Among the shoppers with convenient access to their designated Lidl store, 65% said they are completely likely to purchase groceries from the retailer again in the future. Another a 19% said they are very likely. Only 4% of the Field Agent shoppers indicated Lidl would become their exclusive grocer, but 38% expect the German retailer to become their primary grocer. And another 38% said Lidl would be one of a few regular grocers.

Field Agent provides on-location auditing and research via a network of 650,000 “agents” who collect data that can be monitored in real time by its clients.

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Newest mall tenant: An ‘athletic resort’

BY Al Urbanski

A J.C. Penney store is going to be displaced by a fancy fitness club.

Simon announced that the J.C. Penney store at Southdale Center, in Edina, Minn., will close and be replaced by a Life Time fitness center, or ‘athletic resort.’ Expected to open in early 2019, the three-level facility will be operated by Life Time, which currently runs 123 centers in the United States. The centers are designed as one-stop fitness shops offering tennis, swimming, basketball, and yoga along with weight loss and nutrition education.

According to a report by the Minneapolis StarTribune, the Life Time center at Southdale will have an indoor and an outdoor pool, and a bistro. It will also offer Ultimate Hoops basketball leagues, chiropractic and physical therapy and a proactive care medical practice.

Life Time founder and CEO Bahram Akradi’s vision for his concept is to turn shopping centers into “healthy lifestyle villages” where people work a heavy dose of healthy living into their live-work-play lifestyles.

“Our focus is to develop all-inclusive destinations that encompass the full spectrum of daily life for thousands of individuals, couples and families of all ages," said Akradi.

Southdale Center, which opened in 1956, has the distinction of being the nation’s first indoor regional shopping mall, according to Simon, which looks to lengthen its life span by infusing it with modern offerings and energy.

"This project with Life Time is part of a larger vision for Southdale Center, to create a connected community epicenter," said Michael McCarty, Simon’s executive VP of Development Operations. "With new nearby apartments, the recently opened Hennepin County Service Center, a hotel coming soon, and this athletic resort on the way, Southdale is realizing that vision."

Life Time is a rapidly expanding concept with a presence in almost 30 states. Southdale is one of 10 new clubs under development at the current time.

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