Shoppers who rely on the web to research products and then use the results to shop in-store are decidedly more satisfied with the experience than those consumers who work in the reverse order and shop online after in-store research, according to new survey data from Forrester Research.
The survey of 4,723 U.S. consumers conducted last August found that the trend was especially pertinent for shoppers browsing three major categories—electronics, footwear & accessories, and wireless phones.
Of those shopping for electronics, 55 percent of the respondents in Forrester’s “store-to-web” designation reported being satisfied as opposed to 66 percent in the “web-to-store” category. Satisfaction rates for those shopping for apparel/footwear was at 53 percent among store-to-web consumers and 60 percent among those considered web-to-store. Finally, 48 percent of store-to web consumers were satisfied when it came to cell phones and services, opposed to 54 percent of web-to-store shoppers.
One overriding problem identified by store-to-web shoppers was their inability to find products on retail sites for the same price as they saw in the store. With electronics in particular, respondents reported that they had no way to verify in-store whether or not that item was also available online.
Across all three categories, the most common complaint was over shipping fees the shoppers were forced to pay for online purchases that they otherwise would avoid by purchasing in-store.
As expected, older store-to-web shoppers weren’t as happy with the cross-channel retail experience as younger, more tech-savvy consumers. However, interestingly enough, within the Baby Boomer demographic, older shoppers were repeatedly more satisfied than younger ones.
The study did not include a question as to exactly why shoppers would research products in a store before buying online but it is assumed that at least some of them bought items online that were not in stock at the physical retail location.
While we’ve long touted the benefits of using the internet to research products, these survey results solidify the notion that as a consumer, you’ll get more comprehensive product information online than anywhere else. Of course, certain items cannot be bought online, meaning an in-store purchase is a necessity. But those purchases should still be made after plenty of online research.
For online retailers, the survey also can be used to devise offerings that drive more shoppers to their web site when it comes time to make a purchase. In-store kiosks that process online transactions for shoppers is one such idea. Giving those kiosk users free shipping as part of their web purchases and allowing them to print out accurate product information such as SKU numbers to aid home research are also good ideas. Finally, retailers must make sure their products online and in-store correspond completely with the same name, pricing information, etc. to ensure no confusion on the part of consumers.
Do you have more ideas or tips on how to enhance the web/store retail experience? Leave them below in a comment!