Consumers expect consistency between various shopping channels, study finds

Accenture surveys 750 consumers on omnichannel shopping

NEW YORK — If any proof was needed of the importance of omnichannel, it can be seen in a new survey of U.S. consumers.

The survey, by management consulting company Accenture, polled 750 consumers and analyzed how top retailers operate across multiple sales channels. Forty-nine percent of respondents said the best thing retailers could do to improve the shopping experience was better integrate in-store, online and mobile channels, while 89% said it was important for retailers to let them pick what they considered the most convenient means of shopping, regardless of sales channel.

Despite the growth of e-commerce, 94% of survey participants said they found in-store shopping easy, compared with 74% who said the same about online shopping and only 26% who said so about mobile phone shopping.

Consumers also place high importance on consistency, with 73% expecting a retailer's online pricing to be the same as in-store pricing, and 61% expecting a retailer's online and in-store promotions to be the same, but while 73% of retailers offer identical promotions online and in the store, only 16% offer the same prices online as in the store, and 19% offer the same product assortment.

"Seamlessness is a tall order for most traditional retailers," Accenture retail practice global managing director Chris Donnelly said. "In many cases, we have found a significant gap between consumer expectations and reality, but we believe seamlessness is achievable. Traditional retailers must take stock of their operational capabilities. They require a presence at every stage of the customer journey to deliver a consistently personalized, on-brand experience from discovery through research, purchase, fulfillment and beyond to product maintenance or returns."

The study, Accenture Seamless Retail Study, also looked at "showrooming" — the phenomenon of consumers looking in stores for products and then buying them online — and webrooming, which means browsing online and then buying in-store. Seventy-three percent of respondents reported showrooming in the six months before Accenture's survey, while 88% said they participated in webrooming. Of the consumers who had showroomed, 41% reported that they had done it more than the year before, while 43% said they planned to shop more online and 23% planned to shop more with their mobile phones. Eighty-two percent of consumers reported that access to current product availability was important, but only 21% of retailers offered such information.

"Stores remain a crucial asset by which traditional players can differentiate themselves from the online pure-play retailers," Donnelly said. "They can serve as a showcase for desirable brands and places where customers can enjoy an experience and social interactions."

Other findings included 81% who said it's important for a retailer to allow them to pick up or arrange for delivery of an item regardless of how it was paid for; 25% said they would be willing to wait a week for free shipping; 24% said it was important for retailers to offer same-day delivery, and 30% said they would be willing to pay extra for it; 56% of retailers offered a range of different fulfillment capabilities, but 26% had same-day delivery; 39% of consumers said they would wait until the morning for the store to open if they wanted an item outside of the store's normal business hours, while 36% said they would buy it online from the same retailer, and 22% said they would buy it somewhere else online; 49% said they were influenced by in-store offers, compared with 56% influenced by email coupons and 56% who said they were influenced by coupons sent through the mail; 69% said online pop-up ads would never influence their purchasing, while 62% said the same of mobile banner ads.


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