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An Insight favoring Physical Retail

The popular verdict across the globe state that the days for physical retail are numbered. However, there are various instances and indications that continue to contradict this point. There is life still left in Brick-and-Mortar stores. The customers’ demand for immediate gratification and an enriched in-store experience is something online retail will never be able to fulfill. The human touch of customer service also is a factor that physical retail can thrive on.

Online retail continues to score on convenience and options that is made available to customers. It can’t do much about providing a one of a kind in-store experience. However, they earn quite a few favors by personalizing the shopper’s experience with the help of smart recommendations and personalized offers. Physical retail has the liberty of doing the same. Here is a look at various indications that tell us that physical stores are well and truly alive.

Fact: People still value physical stores

Despite of online retail ruling the charts, people still value physical stores. It’s not a notion but a fact. Findings from the latest Time Trade State of Retail 2017 report validates this. As mentioned earlier, the customers’ affinity for a rich in-store experience, instant gratification and various other factors brings them back to store every now and then. The following illustrations clearly indicate that customers resorted to stores for 75% of their total retail shopping excluding grocery stores in 2016. In 2017, around 70% of customers plan to shop in stores as much as they did in 2016.

shop in physical  store

(image credit: Time Trade, 2017)

Much like Showrooming, Webrooming exists too!!

Physical retail has been cribbing about customers using the stores as showrooms only to make purchases online. But, this is not always true. The need of customers to touch and feel a product makes them keep coming back to stores. Besides, offline stores today focus on enhancing the in-store experience of customers by hiring knowledgeable sales associates, providing in-store wi-fi, providing personalized offers and recommendations through in-store beacons etc. Customers now have more reasons than one to make their purchases in-store.

According to the time trade survey, customers will want to make purchases in-store. The human element of customer service from the store associates, and the advantage of not having to pay for shipping will contribute to customers using the online medium for showrooming purpose. The study revealed that 50% of customers sometimes browse online and purchase in-store, while 26% of them do the same most of the time. 75% of customers prefer to buy an item in-store when it is available both online and at a nearby store.

The concept of Webrooming is more applicable while purchasing products that are expensive. For products that are high on price like electronic appliances, vehicles, etc., customers show a greater tendency towards Webrooming. They do all the necessary research online and then resort to physical stores for the eventual purchase. Customers don’t want to risk their investment on an item that is purchased online in case the product turns out to be defective. Although there are convenient return policies, the entire process of going through returning the defective online products can be quite a hassle. They would rather be sure of the product that they are buying by touching and testing the product in-store.  The study by Time Trade clearly indicates that customers prefer to make big-ticket purchases in-store, rather than online.

big ticket purchases in store

(image credit: Time Trade, 2017)

An Overview of why customers prefer in-store shopping over online

As mentioned earlier, there can be a variety of reasons that contributes to a customer preferring in-store shopping over online. Some enjoy the enhanced in-store experience that retailers provide through advanced customer service, while some love resorting to the expertise and guidance provided by knowledgeable store assistants. And then there are customers who love to avail the various in-store promotions in the form of smart recommendations and personalized offers. There are also some who are not concerned about any of the above. They just prefer in-store because they can touch and try an item before purchase.

The study by Time Trade pinpoints the several reasons why customers prefer shopping in-store over online. The following illustration provides a fair indication.

in-store vs online shopping

(image credit: Time Trade, 2017)

About Shakuntala Sarkar

Shakuntala is a marketer with 15 years of experience in Marketing Strategies & Operations, Brand Communications, Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communications. An economics graduate from St Xavier’s college, Kolkata and a IIMC she, has worked across different industries like IT & Retail, with consumer marketing in both B2B and B2C segments. Before joining Tickto, she was the Head of Customer Relationship Management at Spencer’s Retail. Prior to that, she has been a part of the Global Marketing & Communications team of Satyam Computer Services.

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