It’s no secret that retail is facing arguably the most dramatic sea change in decades—while brick-and-mortar stores remain popular for consumers in today’s unified commerce environment, online options are increasingly drawing traffic away from the store.
As evidenced by the findings of the third annual Consumer Survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by JDA Software Group, about 54 percent of respondents reported that they prefer to shop in-store over other channels, like online, mobile and social media. Almost half (46 percent) prefer to skip the store altogether in favor of digital channels.
Survey findings confirm that services promoting convenience will be crucial in maintaining that majority of brick-and-mortar shopping. For instance, a quick and easy shopping experience was favored over a personalized experience by three in four respondents, and year over year data showed a steady 44 percent increase in convenient buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) adoption since 2015.
“Our 2017 Consumer Survey highlights the changing role of retail stores,” said Jim Prewitt, vice president of retail industry strategy at JDA, in a news release. “While there has been speculation of a ‘retail apocalypse,’ that doesn’t seem to hold true for consumers. No longer the only channel for shopping, brick-and-mortar stores are still a key cornerstone for a quick and easy shopping experience and the facilitator for popular fulfillment options, like BOPIS and buy online return in store (BORIS).”
IS BOPIS a cure for the store?
According to the survey, half of respondents used BOPIS services in the last 12 months, a 44 percent increase since the 2015 JDA Voice of the Consumer survey. By offering incentives, however, that uptick could rise significantly; 80 percent of shoppers would consider using the service if retailers offered price discounts or incentives. This would in turn add value to the consumer shopping experience, while pushing retailers to differentiate themselves among competitors through special offers.
“While some retailers are already testing out ways to incentivize consumers to choose BOPIS services over home delivery, our research found that this could be a successful way to capture shopper attention in today’s competitive marketplace and further validate the role that BOPIS will play in the success of retail stores,” said Prewitt. “By offering incentives to shoppers to use BOPIS, like discounting, retailers are driving more foot traffic into stores, and potentially, buying more than they intended to, once they arrive at the store, boosting store sales.”
In addition to leveraging existing store inventory and streamlining shipping logistics, BOPIS provides another sales conversion opportunity for retailers. Of the respondents that use buy online pickup in store services, 40 percent “sometimes” made additional purchases in-store.
Of course, BOPIS adoption remains tied to consumers’ desire for convenience. Of the respondents who have used BOPIS services, avoiding home delivery (39.61 percent) and wanting the product sooner (33.14 percent) remain the top reasons for selecting the fulfillment option, similar to findings in 2016 and 2015. And with more retailers successfully implementing the service, 58 percent of respondents did not experience a problem with the service over the last year.
When consumers do experience issues with BOPIS services, they continue to be associated with mismanaged staffing. Twenty-three percent found that store staff took a long time or were unable to find the shopper’s order in their store system, and 16 percent found that there were no dedicated staff in store for BOPIS purchases. This is consistent with 2016 results, and showcases the need to refine workforce management for new fulfillment channels to compete in today’s retail environment.
Returns drive consumers in store as well
When it comes to returning items bought online, having to pay for return postage and packaging continues to be the biggest frustration for consumers. Nearly one in three shoppers have leveraged buy online return in store (BORIS) services this year, up from only 20 percent in 2016. (tweet this)
Almost half of respondents (44 percent) used BORIS services because an item purchased online was not what they expected it to be; this is up by over 10 percent from 2016. Over 30 percent used BORIS services because they did not want to deal with the hassle of return deliveries, and almost one in five respondents (17 percent) believed they would receive their refund/exchange faster.
Shopping on social media
A little over one-fourth of respondents (26.28 percent) have leveraged social media to purchase an item online. Of those who had, respondents ages 18-29 years old were more likely to do so (35 percent) than other age groups. Two popular visual platforms—Facebook (81 percent) and Instagram (26 percent)—were the most widely used social media channels for online purchases.
“Social media continues to be a channel for consumers to browse, but is still emerging as a path to purchase. That means retailers need to continue refining these channels as shoppers begin to embrace them, particularly as the Gen Z generation of shoppers increases,” added Prewitt.
Predictions for the 2017 holiday season
Ongoing yearly sales, both in-store and online, are preferred by most shoppers. More than half of respondents (57 percent) would rather complete their holiday shopping throughout the year and outside of the holiday season rush.
When it comes to holiday shopping, 25 percent of respondents favor online Cyber Monday purchases; 12 percent prefer Black Friday in-store deals; and roughly 6 percent prefer making their holiday purchases during Amazon Prime Day. Additionally, the majority of respondents (53 percent) occasionally buy more items than they anticipated/planned to when shopping during a sale event.
JDA collected responses from 1,058 US-based consumers, 18 years and older, via a third-party provider to determine the findings of its 2017 Consumer Survey. Among those surveyed, 53 percent were female and median income was recorded between $50,000 and $74,999.