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Survey: Shoppers still care about in-store experience

BY Dan Berthiaume

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. 

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higi, DSN partner to sponsor health sweepstakes at NACDS TSE

BY DSN STAFF

DENVER — Fresh off their partnership on the Fit Pharmacist Challenge, cloud-based health and wellness community engagement platform higi is again partnering with Drug Store News for the Check-in for Charity Sweepstakes at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Total Store Expo. 
 
NACDS TSE attendees who visit higi’s booth, #3715, and complete a free and confidential self-screening of their biometrics at the higi Station have a chance to win every day the exhibit hall is open. Entrants have the opportunity to win a $500 donation to the charity of their choice and a free activity-tracking device from one of higi’s more than 50 device partners.
 
To learn more about how to enter the sweepstakes, click here.

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Ahold’s Q2 keeps company on track for full-year goals

BY David Salazar

ZAANDAM, The Netherlands — Ahold on Thursday reported results from Q2 and the first half of 2015. The company saw net sales of $9.7 billion (€8.6 billion) — a 17.1% increase over the same period last year. Its U.S. businesses saw net sales of  about $6 billion (€5.3 billion), which is an increase of about 22.5%, which is actually a decrease of 0.3% from the same period last year as a result of gas sales at constant exchange rates. Excluding gas, net sales were up 2.% from last year at constant exchange rates. 
 
Ahold CEO Dick Boer said that the company was pleased with its growth in sales and operating income, and that’s its focus in the U.S. would be improving customer experiences and growing its consistently increasing market share. 
 
“In the United States, we continue to focus on improving our customer proposition and remain on track with the implementation of our program to provide better quality and value to our customers,” Boer said. “For the fourth consecutive quarter, we grew volume market share in the United States and our margins were resilient, as a result of ongoing cost control.”
 
The company is also looking to continue growing its market share in the coming months with its conditional acquisition of 25 greater New York Stop & Shop stores from the now-bankrupt Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P). Another potential source of growth on the horizon is Ahold’s acquisition of Delhaize, which, though not expected to close until 2016, is on executives’ minds as they anticipate meeting the company’s full-year goals.
 
“Looking ahead, we remain confident in our outlook for the business and are on track to deliver a full-year performance in line with expectations,” Boer said. “We are excited about the agreement with Delhaize, which brings together two highly complementary businesses to create a stronger, international food retailer for the benefit of our customers, associates and shareholders."

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