Survey: Brick-and-mortar shoppers expect digital services

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A new survey indicates a strong omnichannel customer experience is key to physical store success.

According to a new study of over 2,000 U.S. consumers who plan to visit a high-touch, non-grocery retail store in the next six months, 80% of respondents expect to increase BOPIS and curbside pickup over the next six months. “The New Store Shopper in High-Touch Retail,” conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by Manhattan Associates, also reveals 85% of respondents have significantly increased curbside pick-up since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March. Almost eight in 10 (79%) respondents say a contactless store pickup is very important to them. 

Respondents expressed mixed opinions about the current state of omnichannel checkout and pickup experiences. Eighty-five percent rate the ease of completing an order four stars or higher out of five, but 81% gave rating of three stars or lower when asked about stores’ availability of preferred pick-up date and time.

While 91% of respondents miss shopping in stores, only 5% plan to try a product in-store in the next six months and only 28% plan to increase in-store shopping. But following months of e-commerce shopping, respondents are planning to increase in-store visits to return an order or item. In fact, returning an item to the store is the second biggest motivator for future store visits, behind same-day need. 

For 80% of shoppers, digital communications with store associates over the next six months are "likely" or "very likely.” As well, the study shows store inventory visibility will become the centerpiece of all associate and customer experiences. This includes showing accurate, real-time store inventory online, filtering stores by product availability, and showing accurate inventory location within the store to associates and customers.

“Shoppers view and value stores very differently today than they did pre COVID-19. More than ever before, it is all about safety, speed and convenience," said Gaurav Pant, chief insights officer, Incisiv. "And, this change in behavior will impact high-touch retail categories such as apparel, luxury and specialty in unique ways. We recommend retailers make it easier to find store inventory online, simplify the in-store pick-up experience, and help their store associates build stronger relationships with customers digitally. As importantly, retailers must arm their store teams with tools to fulfill online orders more efficiently - and ultimately, profitably."