Stamford, Conn. —Even with the increasing influence of digital technology on retail habits, the in-store experience is important in all major purchase decisions, according to a new survey. The new Fourth Annual Major Consumer Purchase Study from Synchrony Financial shows that an overwhelming majority of shoppers buy in person.
At the same time, shoppers continue to carefully research major purchases of $500 or more, including financing options. While 80% of major purchase customers start with online research, most finish the deal inside a store.
“These insights are a valuable reminder for retailers of the importance of the in-store experience as part of a true omni-channel strategy,” the study said.
The latest study explored attitudes about shopping and spending habits, financing, and the path to making major purchases across 13 categories: appliances; automotive service, tires and products, electronics, eyewear, fine jewelry, flooring, home improvement, furnishings, bedding and mattresses, lawn and garden, musical instruments, sewing and sports and fitness equipment.
The major purchase journey is getting shorter, with shoppers spending an average of 68 days researching a product (down from 80 in 2014). Online purchasing of larger ticket items remained stable at 13% year-over-year, with the exception of consumer electronics.
The in-store experience matters more than ever, with 73% conducting research during their visit and 87% of respondents purchasing in person. Sixty-four percent of all shoppers surveyed said in-store visits had a greater influence on their purchasing decision than online research.
Financing continues to play a critical role in the major purchase process, with 75% of Synchrony cardholders surveyed saying they “always” seek promotional financing when making a purchase, and 89% indicating promotional financing makes larger purchases more affordable.
Results show that shoppers enjoy the immediacy and interaction of in-store purchases. Shopping in-store allows them to take the product home on the same day, see and feel the product, and interact with a store associate. Some respondents noted they simply like to shop at the retailer.
Shoppers continue to carefully conduct research via a number of channels prior to making their major purchase. Steps in their path-to-purchase include product research online and off such as store visits, consulting friends and family, exploring offers and financing, and checking online reviews. Consumers who purchase online are driven by value and availability and said they liked the ease and convenience, found better deals on the web, or bought items not stocked in the store.