Is Retail Still the Place to Be?
85% of purchases are still made at the retail level, in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. But why does this happen when most can agree that shopping online makes life so much easier? Is it because people are still yearning for human interaction? We’ll explore the top three reasons why consumers still choose to go to a brick-and-mortar retail store in 2019, and what this can mean for online businesses.
1. Humans are Tactile
Human beings are naturally tactile creatures, in that they like to be able to touch a product. Some people learn through touch, or bond through touch more so than others. But on the whole, the average consumer enjoys the ability to be able to pick up a product and get a hands-on feel for the texture, weight, and the dimensions of the item.
Women more so than men prefer the tactile shopping experience, while both young and old consumers equally enjoy the physical shopping experience they can get in traditional stores. While online shopping can make the purchasing process quicker, easier, and faster, it will never be able to replace the tactile needs and desires that people have.
2. The Need for Speed
In-store shoppers enjoy the ability to immediately purchase and take their items home with traditional shopping methods. Even super fast, two-day online shipping can’t fulfill this desire that consumers have. Younger consumers and men prefer the ability to take an item home with them from the store immediately. When you order online, you might be waiting for several weeks before you get your item. This desire is probably something that online shopping will never be able to meet.
3. Returns are Easier
In surveys on brick-and-mortar retail versus online shopping, the ability to easily return an item rounds out the top three reasons why consumers like the retail experience. Returns for in-store items are usually more straightforward and faster than a return for an online store. However, some online retailers do not offer a straightforward, quick, or easy way for shoppers to return an item. This is something that could be fixed and optimized for online companies.
Surveys conducted on online shopping versus retail shopping have found that human interaction is at the bottom of the list when it comes to why people may prefer the traditional retail experience. For the most part, consumers want speed and convenience. While on the surface it can seem like online shopping should have this in the bag compared to retail shopping, that’s not always the case.
Online retailers can’t magically make an item appear in a person’s lap as soon as they click the “buy” button on their laptop or mobile device. Likewise, online retailers can’t give consumers a tactile experience of the product. But they can improve the returns process to better compete with brick-and-mortar retailers. While physical stores are still the primary way that people shop, a full 7% of surveyed consumers said that they only shop online. And, that number is expected to continue to grow.
Do you primarily shop online or do you prefer the traditional retail experience? Why or why not? Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think.