A Market Track survey of 1,200 primary household shoppers found a majority of people prefer shopping in a physical store location rather than online, according to Retail Leader. The study also found 80% of shoppers would do online price comparisons.
Market Track's survey also showed a strong shift toward mobile shopping, particularly among age groups of 18-to-20-year-olds (40% prefer mobile shopping) and 21-to-29-year-olds (47% do the bulk of their shopping online).
“Even with consumers indicating their preference to purchase items in-store, the highly competitive online environment is impacting brick and mortar results," Traci Gregorski, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Market Track, said. "Decreases in profit margins can be attributed to shoppers being armed with more pricing and comparison information.”
It doesn't take a survey to tell retailers which way the shopping wind is blowing. While a majority of consumers said they continue to prefer shopping in a physical store rather than online, enough have made a full (or nearly full) transition to the web that both food traffic and sales have declined.
Price comparisons are a huge reason for the divergence between consumer desire and behavior. Shoppers want to be confident they are getting the best deal for the products they need, and can check prices from different retailers at the store or online in seconds. In order to keep shoppers coming back to physical stores, grocers need to find ways to reassure their customers of competitive pricing and offering the public a shopping experience they can't get online. Hy-Vee, for example, has added beauty, fitness and clothing to some of its stores. Other companies like Wal-Mart are immersing themselves in click and collect where shoppers can order online and pick up at the store.
Signage showing price advantages is one way to achieve this, as is emphasizing affordable, high-value private label products other competitors don't sell. Premium store-branded items are a great way to encourage shopper loyalty and trust.
Grocers also can offer price matches and signage that shows competitor prices in store, but shoppers will still use their phones to double check these claims. Retailers shouldn't fight the rise of in-store cell phone use, but rather find ways to leverage this tool to their advantage.