Depending on who you believe, brick and mortar retail is either dying by degrees or experiencing a rebirth in the hands of Millennials—but under either scenario, in-store commerce is reliant on one key factor for survival: creating a memorable experience.
To help physical retailers survive and thrive, customer experience elevation firm Mood Media recently released its newest global study, The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017, revealing consumer insights around the importance of in-store customer experience as well as in-store shopping behaviors.
The study takes a deep dive into the complete in-store journey: Mood commissioned the research to better understand what influences consumers’ decisions to choose brick-and-mortar stores over online shopping, what they most enjoy and don’t enjoy about the in-store experience and what most motivates them in the physical store. The report also explores the influence of a store’s atmosphere, including music, on the overall shopping experience, as well as how consumers are using their mobile devices while shopping.
“Consumers are increasingly comfortable shopping in an omnichannel world, yet there are still key differences that steer shoppers toward one channel over another at times,” said Scott Moore, global senior vice president of marketing for Mood Media, in a news release. “The tangible, tactile nature of brick and mortar is still viewed as a very real advantage, as is the desire for instant gratification.
“Further, shopping as a form of entertainment remains important to the majority of people around the world,” he continued. “Consumers, particularly younger consumers, aren’t just buying a product when in-store—they’re buying an experience. And their expectations for a positive, emotionally engaging experience are quite high. Those businesses who deliver an elevated customer experience witness greater repeat visits, a greater number of recommendations and longer in-store dwell times.”
Some select highlights from the study, particularly regarding results from U.S. consumer respondents, include:
Consumers greatly value the tactile nature of offline shopping
72 percent of U.S. consumers cite “the ability to touch, feel and try products” as their top reason for shopping brick & mortar. This lines up with global results, with 78 percent of consumers surveyed worldwide citing this as their number one reason for shopping in-store.
In-store frustrations remain
Waiting in line is the top in-store frustration for U.S. shoppers, at 60 percent, with items or sizes being out of stock coming in second (at 47 percent). One way to combat this? Of those surveyed in the U.S., 77 percent say waiting in line is less dull if music is playing.
Music is a crucial ingredient
If a store is playing music, 84 percent of U.S. consumers cite that “the shopping experience is more enjoyable,” 81 percent say that their “mood is lifted,” and 70 percent express that they “feel like it’s a brand they can relate and connect to.”
In the U.S., those aged 18-24 rate the “atmosphere and experience” to be more important than any other age group, with 1 in 3 citing it as a top reason they choose in-store over online shopping.
Most impulse buys aren’t triggered by accident
When it comes to making unplanned purchases, 54 percent of Americans cite that “discounts and promotions” most influence their impulse buys, while 37 percent cite “feeling in the right mood” as their top driver.
Consumers want to be a part of the in-store experience
Nearly half of U.S. respondents (46 percent) confirmed that they would like to be able to influence the music playing in-store.
A branded atmosphere with attention to detail matters
When music is partnered with visuals and scent to create a branded in-store atmosphere, 59 percent of Americans surveyed say they’re more likely to “revisit” (72 percent of those aged 18-24), and 54 percent say they’re more likely to “recommend the place to others” (65 percent of those aged 18-24). Furthermore, 60 percent of 18-24 year olds cited that an enjoyable, branded in-store atmosphere would make them more likely to “stay (and shop) in the store longer.”
Mobile devices are increasingly used as shopping tools
Fifty percent of U.S. consumers surveyed would like to receive immediately redeemable discounts pushed to their phones while in-store. Interest in receiving among 18-24 year olds came in even higher, at 67 percent.
This quantitative study is based on a survey of more than 11,000 consumers in nine countries across the globe, including Australia, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.