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52% of customers say in-store remains their favorite way to shop

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52% of customers say in-store remains their favorite way to shop

While the pandemic may have forced many consumers to go online to make purchases, just over half say they would rather be browsing physical retail locations, according to data released by Service Management Group (SMG).

The Kansas City-based provider of experience management services said it gathered feedback from more than 6,000 U.S. consumers to cull its research. The data synthesized both operational measurement data as well as behavioral insights from its technology platform, SMG said.

Overall, eight in 10 respondents had visited a retailer in person over the past 12 months, whereas only one in four said they preferred having purchases delivered to their home.

This isn’t to suggest digital isn’t continuing to grow, however. SMG found 30 per cent of those surveyed plan to increase their online purchases over the next six months. Nearly half of respondents also said they tend to look at a brand’s web site before making an in-person visit.

As much as retailers may be trying to enhance their customer experience by offering fast shipping, meanwhile, it wasn’t nearly as important as fulfilling orders free of charge, which one in four said was their top consideration. This was nearly two times more popular among those who preferred digital channels than having an easy online shopping experience.

“With added costs coming from delivery and shipping, understanding customers’ expectations can help retailers drive priorities for both operations and the customer experience—especially important with the holiday season approaching,” the company said.

360 Magazine Insight

SMG didn’t produce a full-fledged report but simply shared a few statistics via a press release. Still, it could serve as a sort of reality check for CX leaders who have been doubling down on digital in the hopes in-store shopping should be scaled back or shuttered entirely.

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The data also suggests that people aren’t interested in paying for speed of delivery. Instead, they may have an inherent expectation that fulfilling orders should be built into the price they’re paying for a product. As financially untenable as free shipping may seem, it might be worth exploring or comparing the investment required for shipment tracking apps and related technologies.

SMG also said roughly half of those in the study were using digital tools like mobile apps to compare prices and search for discounts. They may be coming in store because, experiments with AR and VR aside, digital shopping is still not as immersive — or fun — than making a physical trip to your favorite brand outlet.

These trends may not be limited to retailers in the clothing or electronics sector, either. Another recent study showed that online grocery shopping has started to dip slightly.

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