If we had a dollar for every time we heard a prospective client state that they don’t think that their online presence is important to their retail business, well we would just be sitting on an island with a cold drink in our hand. Fortunately, we are able to show our then prospective and now clients that nothing could be further from the truth. Investment into the changing retail climate for both large and local brands cannot be denied. Brick and mortar retailers are investing heavily in their digital footprint, online technology and customer experiences that are focused on both customer acquisition AND repeat business.

Carriage builders in the horse and buggy days either shifted to automobile related industries to continue services to the same clientele or became obsolete. Similarly today, mid-sized regional and local retail brands have to shift how they cater to their customer purchase preferences and integrated online habits.

Without transforming your retail brand to compete in store as well as adjusting to the constantly changing digital components, could spell disaster faster than you think.

How Americans Shop Is Changing

In a recent study conducted by Criteo, it was discovered that a significant majority of Americans use both brick and mortar along with digital means to research before buying via retail. The study went further to detail that over 80% are using what is called “omnishopping”, adding digital to support their in store retail purchases. This is highly significant to both small and mid-sized retail brands that tend to delay transforming their digital strategies far too long.

Additional insights from the 10,000 person study on retail shopping habits reveals:

What percentage of consumers shop online rather than in brick and mortar1- 69% of retail shoppers prefer online shopping over visiting a local brick and mortar location.

2- Yet, a massive 74% of retail shoppers said that they like in store shopping when time permits.

3- 24% of American retail shoppers stated that they frequently browse products online first, then ultimately make their purchase within a retail store later. 66% say they do this process occasionally.

4- Only 17% of shoppers stated they regularly pick up online purchases at a local store, while a huge 66% said they only occasionally do this.

In Store Beats Online Impulse Purchases

One of the more fascinating elements of the retail shopping study is focused on the patterns consumers have with respect to impulse purchases. Purchasing on impulse is a retail tradition for many Americans, drawing on our highly emotional and consumerism tendencies. The research found that 70% and 50% of shoppers tended to make apparel and electronic purchases, respectively on impulse when browsing online. On the contrary, a higher 81% and 60% tend to make in store purchases of apparel and electronics as an impulse.

So retail stores desperately need to get their customers onsite if they’re going to improve their sales revenue. Mid-sized local and regional retail brands are going to have to work hard to make this happen and compete with the big enterprise brands who have the luxury of massive brand recognition and the resources to stay cutting edge online.

What Drives Consumers Into Local Stores?

A huge factor for consumers shopping at a local retail store was a more immediate need. In fact the study showed that 60% would go to a brick and mortar store if the need was immediate enough. Edging out immediacy for consumers was a convenient location. 66% of smartphone users in the study said that the more convenient the location, the more likely it would be that they would go into a store, rather than search to purchase an item online.

The additional factors that get consumers into brick and mortar stores are as follows:

  • 38% Knowledgeable sales people
  • 34% Unique or specialized products
  • 33% Better ways to try the product
  • 26% Store design
  • 26% Displays that show how to use the product

Is Black Friday Losing Relevance?

In another retail shopping study conducted by Accenture, found that 52% of those surveyed said that they are less likely to shop in-store AND online on Black Friday this year compared to a few years ago. It further showed that 64% of shoppers no longer like the idea of crowds fighting just to get doorbuster deal anylonger.

One of the most telling details within the Accenture study showed the dramatic change that online shopping is having on the holiday retail season, in that 64% of consumers say that they now buy holiday gifts throughout the year through deal websites and large etailer deal days.

How Should Mid-sized Retail Brands Transform?

What mid-sized retailers should do to remain relevant to their increasingly digital customersMid-sized retail brands are going to have to up their digital marketing and user experience games if they’re going to withstand the rapid digitization of consumers and huge retailers. Technologies and tactics used should be prime areas of focus for retailers that want to remain relevant to their local consumers and gain additional store foot traffic.

Understanding the changes that the internet and mobile technologies are having on consumer retail shopping patterns is a must for the average small to middle sized businesses in the USA. Improving your retail brands ability to connect with consumers where they are spending their time online, drive traffic to your internet properties and get customers into your retail store or at least into your purchasing funnel isn’t for the faint of heart. You have to know what you don’t know and be able to use that information to develop strategies, web funnels, content and user experiences that your customers are looking for online and optimize those channels that warrant consumers to visit your store. Use the statistics above that provide the top reasons that drive people to come into retail stores to develop new experiences, messaging and marketing that address these areas and provide the best opportunities to get customers in.

Welcome to the new world of retail in America.