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Despite indications that consumers (including digital natives!) prefer shopping in-store to online, 4 in 10 consumers worldwide (31% in the US) consider shopping in stores to be just a chore that has to be done, according to a recent CapGemini survey [pdf] of 6,000 consumers across 9 countries.

An accompanying survey of retail executives reveals that they’re far more enthusiastic about stores’ usefulness than are consumers. For example, more than 8 in 10 retail executives feel that stores are useful for finding information and comparing products, but fewer than half of consumers surveyed feel the same way.

In fact, difficulty in comparing products is the top frustration faced by consumers in retail stores, cited by 71% of respondents. This may relate to higher expectations wrought by online shopping: a recent survey from the Pew Research Center found that a healthy majority (at least 60%) of online shoppers in the US said they typically compare prices if they need to make a purchase, rather than buy in-store or online without comparing prices to the other channel.

Not far behind, other major frustrations faced by consumers when shopping in retail stores include long queues at checkout (66%), the inability to locate products (65%), the lack of personalized discounts and promotions (65%) and the non-availability of store guidance and demos (64%).

Product availability and comparisons are particularly important, and reflect what consumers most find useful about stores. Separately, three-quarters expect to be able to check product availability before visiting a store. That results bring to mind recent research from KSM Media, in which shoppers said that when looking into visiting a particular store, the most helpful information are prices of items (83% citing as extremely or very helpful) and availability / in-stock inventory (78%).

Almost three-quarters of respondents to the Capgemini survey also expect same-day delivery of products purchased in-store. Without that option, many would be likely to avoid traditional retailers: 71% on average (87% in China; 64% in the US) would be willing to bypass traditional retailers to buy directly from manufacturers or online giants if those players partnered with local retailers on last-mile delivery.

Meanwhile, loyalty programs have a role to play: 68% of respondents to the Capgemini survey value loyalty points for spending time in store and revisiting, and 61% consider it important to have lower prices with a store membership (akin to Amazon Prime). (See here for research into the most important program features for retail loyalty members.)

Finally, for a smaller majority of consumers, the store needs to be an experience: 57% want stores to go beyond simply selling products, with this figure rising to almost 80% among Chinese consumers.

It seems that stores have their work cut out for them in keeping up with consumers’ expectations…

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 6,000 consumers across the US (13% share of respondents), UK (11%), France (11%), Germany (11%), Italy (11%), Spain (9%), Sweden (11%), the Netherlands (9%) and China (14%). An accompanying survey of 500 senior retail executives was conducted in November 2016 in those same countries. The retail executives surveyed were part of the retail operations or strategy teams. Almost half (47%) come from companies with revenues of more than $5 billion.

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