Shoppers still prefer the in-store experience to the online one across electronics (66%), fashion (74%) and home improvement (76%), according to a study from TrendSource [download page]. An overwhelming majority of respondents believe that the store experience is better for customer service and for handling returns and exchanges, per the report, while e-commerce wins out for product availability and variety.
There are more mixed feelings about pricing, however: while 62% feel that online provides better pricing for electronics, only 55% agree with respect to home improvement. There’s a near-equal split for fashion, with only a slim majority (51%) feeling that pricing is better online.
There’s a clear age pattern in electronics shopping preferences, with progressively older age brackets being more likely to prefer the in-store experience. Even so, a majority of Millennials surveyed say they prefer the shopping experience for electronics in-store as opposed to online.
Preference for in-store shopping in the home improvement sector is consistent across age groups, and is actually highest among the youngest bracket.
Associates Matter, But Not For Fashion
Generally speaking, the main reasons why shoppers go to a physical store to make a purchase rather than doing so online are to get the items immediately and to be able to physically confirm their quality and fit. Interestingly enough, a strong majority also go in-store to bargain hunt, particularly in the fashion sector.
Shoppers also value advice or assistance from associates – but only in some cases. While 7 in 10 value associates for electronics and 62% for home improvement, just 34% of respondents who shop for fashion appreciate associates’ advice.
In-store technology and tools – some of which are considered “creepy” and some “cool” – also have a lesser impact on fashion shoppers. Just 14% count in-store tech as a reason for shopping in physical stores for fashion, compared to 35% for both home improvement and electronics shopping.
Overall, shoppers are most apt to want to engage store associates when they have questions about product specifics or want information about item locations.
Music Could Prove A Turnoff
While research suggests that shoppers feel that music can improve the in-store atmosphere, that may not be the case across all age groups.
In fact, only a minority of Baby Boomers feel that Sound heightens the in-store experience when shopping for fashion (45%), compared to almost 6 in 10 Millennials.
There’s much more consistency in feelings around the importance of Touch and Sight, with upwards of three-quarters valuing these senses in-store regardless of the retail category.
The full study is available for download here.
About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 2,016 North American adults (18+) from TrendSource’s proprietary database of field agents.