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09/27/2021

Survey: Customers want a digital shopping experience in-store

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Customers will visit the store if the right technology is available.

Although most consumers prefer to do a majority of their shopping online, they can be drawn into the store with leading-edge technology.

According to “In-Store Shopping: Hiccups & Hangups of 2021,” a new survey of more than 1,600 U.S. consumers from digital signage platform Reflect, six in 10 respondents said they prefer to perform more than half of their shopping online. Despite this majority, the findings also highlight a significant interest in in-store technology to enhance the in-person shopping experience.

For example, two-thirds (67%) of respondents said what they miss most about in-person shopping is interacting with products and knowing what they’re getting. More than half (55%) of respondents said they prefer to shop in-person for food and grocery items, above any other product category. And over four in 10 (43%) respondents say the Delta variant of COVID-19 will not have an impact on how much they shop in person.

[Read more: Survey: Delta variant will fuel holiday e-commerce boom]

Further insights from the study revealed a strong consumer interest in specific technologies that can bring online features to brick-and-mortar stores. These findings include:

  • 56% of respondents 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%.
  • 46% said they prefer a more DIY shopping experience, with self-service options.
  • 83% believe informative digital screens would save time during shopping trips.
  • Of those who do the majority of their shopping online, nearly 50% say that informative, interactive displays would be the most enticing feature for them to shop in person.

[Read more: Survey: Consumers want digital capabilities in-store]

In addition, the survey examined generational differences in online and brick-and-mortar shopping preferences, finding:

  • 80% of under-30 shoppers are more likely to shop in person than online if a store has interactive screens with product information, product comparisons and/or reviews.
  • Surprisingly, only 56% of younger millennials (under 30) prefer to shop online, compared to almost 70% of older millennials (30-44).

 “What we’re seeing—to no one’s surprise—is that the factors driving people to shop online are the ease and breadth of features it offers, but consumers are clearly missing key elements of in-person shopping that online retailers simply can’t provide,” said Lee Summers, CEO at Reflect. “Shoppers still want to physically interact with products, but they’ve grown accustomed to the personalized, ‘DIY’ experience of online shopping. This data shows that retailers have a huge opportunity to leverage in-store technology to drive store traffic and revenue by deploying tech that puts customers in the driver’s seat, giving them access to product information—right at their fingertips.”

“This research clearly illustrates the gaps retailers can and should fill between in-person and online shopping,” said Matt Schmitt, Reflect co-founder and president. “Through new innovations, personalized experiences and other unique offerings, brands have a host of solutions at their disposal to enhance in-store shopping trips and encourage customers to keep coming back—simply by giving customers the experience they want.”