Consumers still prefer to shop in-store, but expectations have changed

Listen closely – those gasps you hear coming from the retail industry aren’t signaling the end. They’re the sound of pure delight streaming from brick-and-mortar stores. Why?

Because 90 percent of retail purchases in the U.S. continue to be made in brick-and-mortar stores, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. 

In fact, headline-grabbing “big news” about retail store closures is misleading and simply not true. In 2017, retailers opened more stores than they closed, according to a recent study by IHL Group. Even more good news is coming next year, the report said, pointing to retailers’ plans to open another 5,500 new stores in 2018.

 In 2017, US retailers opened 4,080 more stores than they closed and plans are on track to debut another 5,500 new locations in 2018. 

What shoppers are saying now is evident: The in-store experience offers a level of personal service that simply can’t be matched by the web. In fact, consumers’ use of digital devices helped to convert close to $600 billion in retail sales in a single year, according to a study by Deloitte.

Before they visit a retail store, many shoppers review trends and pricing online – the proliferation of channels has created more than 800 potential paths to purchase, according to Cisco. With their pre-sale searching complete, shoppers arrive ready to buy. Savvy retail consultants, formerly functioning as order takers, now carefully guide customers along their individualized paths to purchase.

While in-store shopping creates the vast majority of purchases, retailers that want to stay competitive need to energize the in-store experience constantly. Mobile can help personalize that experience by:

  • Offering information on products available in-store and online via an “endless aisle.”
  • Recommending products based on items the customer has already purchased.
  • Enabling sales consultants to complete transactions on the retail floor, without requiring the customer to wait in a traditional check-out line.
  • Personalizing the return experience by greeting customers as they enter the store, allowing the sales consultant to start a conversation about potential new sales.

While online shopping isn’t killing traditional retail, it’s prompting the industry to rethink the way it does business. Smaller stores featuring a curated product selection capable of generating a higher profit per square foot, events that keep the shopping experience fresh and highly personalized service are making in-store shopping a dynamic adventure. As retailers race to delight customers with unique experiences, mobile continues to power these critical personalized initiatives in existing stores and new locations.

To learn more about how mobile is fast-tracking retail’s transformation, see the infographic titled, “Retail Reinventing Facts”