It looks like people are still shopping in stores after all.
Nearly all consumers shopped in a physical store in the past 12 months, according to research from Coldwell Banker Commercial and The Harris Poll. Consumers chose to shop in-store to purchase a product they needed immediately, to experience a product before buying it, to browse and get ideas and to take advantage of in-store sales or coupons.
"Consumers still want the experience of in-store retail, and the numbers show they're also looking for personalized assistance," said Daniel Spiegel, managing director of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates. Half of consumers say they would sacrifice spending less on a product online in order to get personalized assistance/advice from an in-store sales associate.
Physical stores are preferred by most consumers for nearly all of the polled purchase types and more than four in five consumers feel they are making a positive contribution to their community by shopping in a physical store.
The approaching holiday season is the best time for retailers to draw in consumers with special deals and convenience. It's also an opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers to create unique experiences for consumers and to present options not available online.
Although consumers are split between online (51%) and physical stores (44%) as their preferred option for buying holiday gifts, more than 9 in 10 consumers (92%) do plan to shop in a physical store for gifts this holiday season. One reason consumers are going into stores is to look for unique gifts.
Sixty-five percent of U.S. consumers report in-store browsing is the top research channel for holiday gift ideas, according to Periscope By McKinsey. Its recent study recommends retailers to think beyond Black Friday, with 50% of U.S. female shoppers reporting they begin holiday gift buying in the October-November time frame.
Smartphones are even becoming a vital part of the in-store shopping experience. Fifty-one percent of consumers are using their phones to compare prices with competitors, 33% to search for in-store discounts or coupons and 30% to look up further product information.
Additionally, it's not just the younger generation taking advantage of smartphones as the findings indicate that those over 50 and the 60-69 age cohort are also interested in using their phones to compare prices/products, read reviews, hunt down coupons or purchase products they've looked at/touched when in-store.
When it comes to technology that would be most beneficial while in stores during the holiday season, shoppers strongly prefer anything that reduces time, found a study from ICSC. Specifically, technology that decreases the amount of time looking for items (45%) and lessens checkout time (42%).
"Given these trends, it's becoming clear that the winners of this holiday season will be those retailers who get personalization right, create omnichannel experiences and win the battle of consideration by launching promotional campaigns earlier," said Brian Elliott, founder, senior advisor & head of innovation at Periscope By McKinsey. "The ability to target relevant and personalized offers is increasingly becoming the deciding factor in a retailer's success."
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Victoria writes for the biweekly Food Institute Report, the daily Today in Food updates, and the Foodie Insider daily newsletter for consumers. She graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Journalism and has a background in Nutrition and Food Science. Victoria can be reached through her email at email@example.com.
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