The Brick-and-Mortar Store Is Not Dead | RetailNext

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The Brick-and-Mortar Store Is Not Dead

Shelley E. Kohan
Shelley E. Kohan
Vice President of Retail Consulting

Accenture survey finds 21% of U.S. shoppers plan to increase in-store purchasing in 2014

The Brick-and-Mortar Store Is Not Dead

Accenture survey finds 21% of U.S. shoppers plan to increase in-store purchasing in 2014

While technology today has advanced to the degree that retail has become unconstrained by store hours, it’s clear that the physical store is not dead. Even as e-commerce sales continue to grow – projected by eMarketer to reach $424.2 billion by 2017 – a recent Accenture survey found “21% of U.S. shoppers said they plan to increase their in-store purchasing” this year (up from a mere 9% last year).

In addition, when asked what needed most improvement, “40% [or retailers] ranked the in-store shopping experience first, compared to just 16% who said the same of online shopping.” This makes sense as the technologies to optimize physical stores haven’t been around as long as those of the online world. Physical stores have been playing catch-up to e-commerce sites in terms of the depth and breadth of available tools and analytics to understand and improve the customer experience; however, smart retailers are figuring out to their advantage that there are now ways to measure shopping behavior in the physical store too.

Measuring components outside the four walls, like pass-by traffic and capture rate, are possible now and key to understanding the share of wallet. This, coupled with understanding the full path to purchase, can unleash hidden opportunities for retailers. The path-to-purchase measures include exposure and engagement rate of departments, areas, and fixtures.

Moreover, opt-in features and in-store analytics allow for retailers to complete a once unseen picture of customer shopping behaviors. Understanding websites being browsed, length of store visits, and purchasing that occurs with other retailers while the customer is in YOUR store can help better meet the needs of the customer.

Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, told Chain Store Age Magazine: “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.”

Yes, retailers who spend time evolving both the physical and online aspects of their brand will win in 2014. How can the multiple channels intertwine to give the customer that round-the-clock shopping experience they now expect? Buying online and picking up in store is a great example.

In fact, the Accenture study also found that “for 31% of U.S. shoppers, the ability to check product availability online before traveling to a store is the service that would most improve the shopping experience. 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.”

Winning retailers will be able to keep up with the vast amount of information available to their customers. It will become ever important for retailers to use this information to carry the right product in the right location at the right price. This seamless integration across all channels, including the vital physical store, is key to the customer experience and sales improvements.