Shopping has evolved significantly in recent years, and is no longer confined to a singular experience – in-store or online. Today, it’s a dynamic journey that takes potential customers across various retail channels before they finally make a purchase. With a constant quest for the best deals, convenience, and staying updated on the latest offers, consumers are navigating this retail landscape in new and exciting ways.
In the past, shopping often meant a visit to a physical store, where you could see, touch, and try on products before making a purchase. However, e-commerce changed the game. Online shopping brought the convenience of browsing and buying from the comfort of your home, and it allowed consumers to access a vast array of products from all over the world.
But progress didn’t stop there. Mobile shopping apps and social media platforms have further transformed the way we shop. Now, consumers can explore products, read reviews, and make purchases seamlessly from their smartphones. The rise of social commerce, where users can discover and buy products directly through social media platforms, has also become a significant part of the shopping experience.
Consumers today are always on the lookout for the best deals and discounts. Whether they’re shopping in-store or online, saving money is a top priority. This has given rise to a culture of couponing, cashback offers, and loyalty programs. Many shoppers actively seek out promotions and rewards before making a purchase. The accessibility of deals is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. Users can quickly search for promo codes, compare prices, and receive personalized recommendations based on their browsing and purchase history. Retailers have also embraced this trend by sending targeted offers to customers through email, SMS, or app notifications.
One significant shift in recent times has been the resurgence of in-store shopping, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. People are returning to physical stores in large numbers, and there are several reasons behind this shift.
“According to a Mood study, 50% of US consumers (and 45% globally) cite “the convenience of getting purchases instantly” as the number one reason they choose to shop in a physical store rather than online. Simply put, though online delivery is easier than ever, the instant gratification that comes with brick-and-mortar shopping still has strong appeal,” shared RetailDive. “Forty-one percent of US shoppers also cite the ability to see, touch and feel goods before they purchase them as a reason for choosing brick-and-mortar shopping.”
The in-store experience offers something that online shopping can’t entirely replicate: the ability to see, touch, and try products before purchase. Many shoppers missed the sensory experience of physically examining items, whether it’s testing the comfort of a new couch or trying on clothes. In-store shopping also provides immediate gratification as you can walk out of the store with your purchase in hand.
Additionally, there’s a social aspect to in-store shopping. It’s a way to spend time with friends or family. In-store shopping can be an enjoyable outing, a reason to leave the house, and a way to support local businesses.
As consumers return to stores and continue their online shopping habits, their expectations have evolved; the expectation of a seamless shopping experience, whether in-store or online, which must be met to remain competitive. Insider Intelligence highlights this, “No matter if that’s all happening in one channel or if it’s happening in many, any time a consumer interacts with a brand, it should feel consistent and flow from one interaction into the other. That’s the true key to omnichannel success.”
Omnichannel Experience: Shoppers expect a seamless experience across all channels. If they browse online but visit a physical store, they want the ability to pick up where they left off, like accessing their shopping cart or wish list.
Personalization: Consumers appreciate personalized recommendations and offers. They want to see products that align with their interests, and they want promotions that suit their buying habits.
Convenience: Shoppers want a hassle-free experience. This includes easy returns, efficient checkout processes, and the availability of contactless payment options.
Information: Consumers are more informed than ever with access to a plethora of product reviews, expert opinions, and user-generated content to make decisions. Retailers need to provide comprehensive product information and encourage user reviews and ratings.
Sustainability: Consumers expect retailers to offer sustainable options, reduce waste, and support eco-friendly practices.
The way consumers shop today is a dynamic process no longer restricted to in-store or online experiences; it’s a journey that spans multiple retail channels. To meet these changing expectations, retailers must adapt and innovate, providing a seamless, personalized, and enjoyable shopping experience that caters to the needs and desires of today’s consumers.