Is the future online or in-store?

As small businesses and their customers scramble and adapt to the ever changing retail scenery, it can be a challenge to determine which way people are going. Are they shopping in store or migrating online? Are they combining both experiences? In an effort to determine where everyone might be headed in the near future, Forbes went out and gathered some data that just may surprise many people. The following are excerpts taken directly from their recently published report:

  • The consumer that you must market your business to in 2021 is not the same consumer you targeted a decade ago — they’re not even the same consumer you appealed to just a year ago. Those who offer in-location experiences must reassess their approach in virtually every way. They must begin by reevaluating what matters most to the 2021 consumer and molding their in-location experience around newfound concerns as well as age-old desires.
  • We surveyed 1,000 American consumers. We asked them 24 questions about their habits, opinions, and actions relating to in-location experiences and online alternatives. Respondents provided their age, gender, income, and other types of information that could prove important to in-location experience managers who want the greatest possible insight into specific consumer segments.
  • Many consumers still prefer shopping in person. 46% of respondents said that given the choice, they prefer to shop in person rather than online. This represents a 9% decline from our previous State of Consumer Behavior 2020 report.

Chart 2 - What's the primary reason you prefer to shop at a physical location

  • Customers still prefer the experience of interacting directly with products. 33% of respondents prefer shopping at physical stores because they like to see and feel products, while 26% enjoy the overall experience of shopping in person.
  • COVID-19 has had a major impact on consumer habits. 40% of respondents have visited physical locations less frequently since COVID-19 hit.

Chart 3 - How has COVID-19 impacted the frequency of visits to physical stores

  • Brand loyalty is lacking. 48% of respondents said they have replaced products they typically purchase at physical stores with competitors’ online alternatives. 25% said that they switch brands more often today than ever before.
  • Brands are doubling down on improving the offline customer experience. 29.8% of respondents said in-location customer service has gotten better in the past year.

Chart 5 - Has the in-store customer service you receive while visiting physical stores changed over the past 12 months

  • Positive offline experiences can make a big impact. 90% of consumers say they are more likely to return again, 61% of consumers say they are likely to spend more at a location and 65% of consumers say they are likely to spend more online with a brand — all if they have a positive offline experience.

-Written by Kevin Sawyer