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Shoppers want a better online experience—but they also want better stores

Don't write off stores just yet. Consumers may be having second thoughts about the convenience of online shopping.

Accenture’s most recent retail survey—a poll of 15,000 respondents in 20 countries—suggests that retailers working to provide a seamless, cross-channel customer experience may need to re-think some aspects of their approach.

An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of consumers say it’s easier to complete a purchase in-store than either online or by mobile. What’s more, while almost half (46 percent) said they plan to buy more online in future, 28 percent also said they would be shopping more in-store. In mature markets the evidence is especially strong, with 16 percent now planning to shop more in-store, versus just 9 percent a year earlier.

In mature markets, just 48 percent now rank online shopping as convenient, versus 56 percent in last year’s survey. Moreover, in such key sectors as consumer electronics, apparel and home improvement, shoppers are now webrooming (looking online then buying in-store) more than they are showrooming (looking in-store before buying online)—54 percent intend to webroom more often versus 48 percent intending to showroom more often—a strong indication that the sheer range of online choices can be overwhelming and that shoppers often prefer to let stores curate their choices for them.

Yet consumers also want online to be more convenient. They value the ability to reserve a product online before viewing it in-store, for example. And when asked to indicate the service they’d value most, the highest ranked answer was the ability to check product availability across channels in real time, which would greatly improve the seamless experience.

What’s more, consumers want some of the convenience of online shopping to be transferred to stores. More than half of all global shoppers surveyed would like additional services in-store via mobile devices, for example accessing shopping lists, scanning products for more information and paying by phone.

The basics of consumer loyalty remain the same: a convenient location, product assortment, the best prices and good customer service. Moreover, close to 50 percent of global shoppers are happy to provide retailers with their personal information—as long as it results in such truly, personalized offerings as promotions based upon purchase history or subscription programs.

Attitudes toward fulfillment vary across markets. But only 29 percent of consumers globally consider same-day delivery important. Consolidating orders is very important for 70 percent, and 75 percent value convenient scheduling, which is more than they value speed. What’s more, convenience trumps price when it comes to returns, with 42 percent of respondents saying they would prefer to return an item purchased online to a nearby store, rather than take the cheapest option.

These findings clearly challenge some commonly held assumptions about what consumers want. And retailers should listen.

Learn more about the seamless retail survey and results here:

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