Long live brick-and-mortar. A study conducted by Mood Media confirms that in-store shopping continues to have a place in today’s retail market, though its role might be shifting. Consumers are increasingly visiting physical locations for instant gratification and entertainment, the study revealed.
The research aimed to understand why consumers choose brick-and-mortar over online. To gather the results, Mood Media polled 11,255 consumers over the age of 18 in nine countries, including the U.S., China, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the U.K. and France.
The main factor drawing shoppers to physical stores? Experiences. “Seventy-eight percent of consumers globally cited touching and trying items as a top reason for shopping in-store — 87 percent of Russian consumers strongly agreed. Seventy-two percent of Americans cited this as the main reason for visiting a brick-and-mortar.”
Consider the approach of men’s wear brand, Bonobos’ to keep inventory overhead low and bolster omnichannel shopping. When attending a store — or “Guideshop” locations as Bonobos coins them — shoppers are presented with new styles, discern their preferred fit, interact with a brand stylist and then have the selected purchase directly delivered.
While Bonobos sets to amplify omnichannel, it might be missing the mark of the second highest reason that shoppers keep it classic and shop brick-and-mortar: instant gratification. “In every country, instant gratification was the second most cited reason for shopping in-store versus online,” said the report. “Sixty-six percent of Americans say the convenience of getting [their purchase] instantly is a top reason for shopping in-store.”
This especially applies to Generation Z shoppers — quick deliveries and immediate purchases strike a chord with these speed-driven consumers. “Among Gen Zs, the majority still prefer visiting stores to make their purchases,” said Accenture’s “Gen Z and Millennials: Leaving Older Shoppers and Retailers in Digital Dust” report.
And though Generation Z and its older cohorts, Millennials, are shifting a chunk of their product perusal online, nearly half of those polled still refer to physical locations to discover a new product. “Forty-eight percent of consumers globally cite discovery as a top three driver [to brick-and-mortars],” said the report. Forty-eight percent of U.S. consumers prefer to mine new finds in-store.
China is the only outlier in this segment — 21 percent said discovery is a main factor in visiting a physical store. Instead, shoppers in the region name atmosphere and experience as a top three factor in deciding to shop in-store instead of online.
Even though much of the industry is turning toward automation for external and internal operations, consumers still value human interaction. “While the brick-and-mortar industry talks a lot about bringing more online technology into the off-line space, consumers point out that we can’t forget about the value of the store associates,” the report said. “Twenty-six percent of U.S. shoppers list being able to speak with a shop assistant as a top reason for choosing a store over online.”
Curating an atmosphere that’s inviting and entertaining will best keep shoppers once they’re in the door. “One in five consumers around the globe choose to shop in-store versus online for the enjoyable atmosphere,” said the report. This requires that the ambience is, well, enjoyable.
Start with playing music that resonates with the brand — but more importantly, the consumer. “Eighty-three percent of Americans — and 78 percent globally — say they like hearing music when shopping in-store,” the report said. “This figure rockets to 91 percent among those 18 to 24.” Not having music can cultivate an adverse reaction. The report noted that shoppers commonly feel disappointed, disengaged and unwelcome when in a silent store.
Maximizing on a shopper’s good mood can translate directly into revenue increases. The better the mood, the more likely one will impulse-buy, said the report. “Thirty-seven percent of U.S. consumers say that feeling in the right mood drives them to make impulse purchases,” said the report.
What’s even more impactful than a strong playlist? Discounts and promotions. “Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumer say that discounts and promotions drive them to make impulse purchases,” said the report. Spain was the region most influenced by special deals – 72 percent said that they were drawn by these initiatives.
It’s not all rosy, however. Long lines and items being out stock were the top frustrations across the board. Mood’s survey found that globally the top frustrations were waiting in line (60 percent), an item or size being out of stock (47 percent), too busy or hectic atmosphere (43 percent), staff unable to assist (33 percent) and store hours being inconvenient (22 percent).
Brands and retailers that frame mobile as a tool instead of a threat will benefit. The majority — 55 percent — of global consumers use their phone while shopping. “The Chinese are the heaviest users of mobile devices when shopping,” said the report. “Seventy-two percent of Spanish shoppers use their mobile device when shopping and 53 percent of all Americans say they use their phones when out shopping.”
U.S. consumers most frequently compare prices on their smartphone when shopping in-store — 83 cited this as a top reason for using their mobile while shopping. “Eighty percent use their mobile phones for product information. Seventy-eight percent use their mobile to search for store promotions,” said the report.
By tapping into shoppers’ emotions through a cultivated and comprehensive atmosphere that reduces commonly encountered friction points such as long lines or unhelpful store associates, consumers will be more inclined to purchase — and visit again.