Given we live in the age of technology; [I may look back in 20 years and laugh at that statement] we all seem to prefer the experience of shopping in store, we may sometimes grumble about it, but we do love it.
Today it is in most cases unnecessary to move off the sofa, get in the car and drive to a store to experience “shopping”. It’s as easy as turning on your computer or sliding your fingers across your smartphone, locating the item and pushing the Paypal button; “was it good for you”, well actually no.<
As easy as it is to shop online, can it really satisfy our needs, our demands or even our wants, not on your Nelly.
Following an offline survey of over 1800 users of, both online and the bricks & mortar buyers; we have, if not a definitive answer but at least an understanding of why the consumer does what they do.
The results found, unsurprisingly that high 70%’s of these were in favour of shopping in the bricks & mortar world. Interestingly enough though; some of the reasons sighted for an online shopping experience were a little more eye opening; Yes, price comparison, being too busy to go shopping and even the “it was just easier” featured up front. However, so did “I was bored” and “don’t know why, I just did”; were not that far behind.
On the whole interviewees came up negative for online as an experience; on a number of occasions sighting poor return policies and products purchased not as expected, being a major gripe.
So, what tops the reasons for buying in the Bricks & Mortar world.
Not surprisingly the “Try before you Buy” came up-front, or as my better half would say “does my bum look big in this syndrome”. The ability to touch and feel the materials, mix and match colours and textures. Even having somebody else’s opinion was highlighted as part of the in-store experience, not available on-line.
It’s easy to assume that this is all related to age, after all an older generation grew up shopping in-store, trying goods on before making a decision and moving onto the purchase. But this was found to be untrue, both the young and the older shopper fervently defended the; try before you buy ethos. Having said that, branded products are often tried-on but not sourced in store, but purchased online at a later date “better known as showroom shopping”, but that’s a whole new conversation.
Instant gratification came very close to the top of those quizzed; the ability to take the product home, and share the experience with family and friends. Something, no matter how hard the Amazons of this world try, cannot meet that challenge, but they keep trying; with Prime providing overnight shipping and in some cases same day delivery. But it’s not about tomorrow or even in 4 hours’ time; its about now. It’s about the excitement and thrill of now, after all I don’t typically order my Big Mac four hours before I want it.
Trust in the returns policy: returning an item online is seen as a painful experience. After all, even if the online business operates a no quibble policy, there is the need to explain why we are returning the product, not necessarily for the business but for the consumer “it’s to big, to small, the wrong colour, damaged”, the list goes on.
Then of course the chore to actually return the goods, it may be a free return: but we still have to put more effort into it: wrap it, pack it, take it to a post-office in our lunch time etc. The consumer wants the return to be as instantaneous as the purchase.
In short, the online-only business does not deliver on this front
The in-store experience is King, Queen & Prince all rolled into one. Shopping is more than a necessity, it’s a hobby, a past-time, an enjoyable recreation. Well that is what the survey tells us.
Shopping in-store is all part of the social engagement, whether it’s out with friends and family or simple interaction with the sales associate, whose helping you with finding the right size or colour. Again, this is an area where on-line cannot compete.
Keeping your store/brand, fresh and inviting, easy to move around and most importantly relevant, helps promote loyalty, loyalty promotes sales, after all it is a symbiotic relationship. Monitor areas such as customer flow, match staffing to customer need and respond quickly when something is not working, and also when it is.
Make the experience pleasurable, the service good and respond to the customers’ needs and the bricks & mortar environment has a good few healthy years ahead of it.