News Feature | February 12, 2015

New Survey Shows Consumers Still Prefer Shopping In Stores

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Consumers Still Prefer Shopping In Stores

Online shopping offers convenience for shoppers and often lets them secure a good deal, but how popular is the practice? While many brick and mortar retailers have embraced an omni-channel approach and let consumers shop for their merchandise online, the results of PwC's 8th annual consumer survey, Total Retail: Retailers and the Age of Disruption, shows that consumers still prefer to shop in a physical store rather than online. The survey also demonstrates to retailers how they should continue to strive for pleasant in-store experiences for consumers.

PwC, also known as Pricewaterhousecoopers, is an audit and tax and consulting company, and surveyed more than 19,000 respondents globally for Total Retail: Retailers and the Age of Disruption. The report focused on how “four major disruptions have resulted in unprecedented change in the retail industry,” and examined how consumers shop. The survey analyzed consumer shopping habits for shopping in-store, via catalogs, on next generation wearables, and off TV. They also examined shopping online via smartphone, via tablet, and via computer. The survey found that 36%, or one in three individuals go to a physical store at least weekly, while 20% shopped online via a computer. The other methods of shopping online, via tablet and mobile phone were also studied, with 10% for tablets and 11% for mobile phone.

PwC surveyed consumers in a variety of consumer product categories, and reported how the respondents' shopping preferences in the following retail areas:

  • Books and media (video games, music, and movies)
  • Consumer electronics and computers
  • Clothing and footwear
  • Furniture and home goods
  • Grocery
  • Health, beauty and cosmetics
  • Sports equipment and outdoor recreation
  • Toys
  • Do-it-yourself/home improvement
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Household appliances

Within each category, PwC's survey also took a look at how consumers did product research. For example, the survey found that consumers researched books and media heavily online, with 75% of shoppers doing their research online, and 19% doing it in-store. The data further revealed how consumers conducted research, looking at answers on research via computer, tablet and smartphone.

Despite how mobile technology and websites have streamlined shopping, PwC's results found that the purchase journey still begins in-store, and forecasts that physical stores won't be replaced by online shopping for several decades. According to the survey data, the number one reason consumers shop online for any consumer product category is the ability to find lower prices and a better deal than when they purchase in-store. 56% of respondents indicated this, and 60% of respondents said that they opted for buying in store because they could test and hold the product. The survey results yielded a lengthy 37 page report, which will no doubt prove valuable to retailers across the board. Several retailers including Neiman Marcus, Lowe's and Macy's have started implementing technology to help consumers have an easier and more interactive in-store shopping experience, and reports like this can help cement why the in-store experience is so important for retail companies.

“From in-store design studios and personal shopping assistants to coffee and tea ateliers, retailers are offering a comprehensive experience, evolving into something sleeker, more customized and increasingly attuned to shoppers’ expectations of what the in-store experience should be,” says PWC's U.S. Retail & Consumer Practice, Steve Barr.