Shoppers happy with DIY ‘online’ in-store experience

In recent years, retailers are giving more control to their in-store shoppers. Interactive digital screens and self-service options make sense from a retail perspective, but what do customers think about this digitisation of physical stores? 

According to research, it seems consumers actually prefer this do-it-yourself approach to in-store shopping, reports Digital Signage Today.  

A key finding of the Reflect survey – focusing on consumer shopping preferences, the influence of in-store signage, and time spent in physical stores – revealed that 46% prefer the DIY shopping experience they get with self-service kiosks and digital screens. 

Over eight in ten (83%) of those questioned believe that informative digital screens can save them time during in-store shopping excursions. Meanwhile, 75% said they would be more likely to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores if those retail spaces had interactive screens with product information, location, product comparisons, and reviews. 

The report acknowledged that the pandemic has pushed retail technology innovation to new levels, suggesting that digital transformation had been fast-tracked by as much as five years in some industries. 

With people becoming more comfortable about working online, this sentiment is spilling over into their buying habits. There has been a marked rise in the number of people using ecommerce channels to make purchases. The report also flagged that 60% of people prefer to buy products via websites – a figure that has remained fairly static over the past few years. 

All of this is good news for ecommerce, but the report doesn’t spell all doom and gloom for physical retail stores…

Getting customers back into physical stores might be easier than we think 

According to the report: “Almost all consumers say the right technologies could lure them back to the physical location.”  

While there are plenty of benefits to shopping online – convenience, quick price comparison, user reviews, and not having to deal with sales associates – that doesn’t mean customers won’t return to physical stores if the right in-store technology was available to them.  

The survey showed that if retailers take the time and effort required to adapt the things customers enjoy about online shopping and deliver them in physical stores, online customers will happily step back through the doors once again. 

A lot of that comes down to the tactile nature of in-store shopping. As the report states: “There’s something about being able to touch a product – to hold it, to see its size, to feel its weight, to inspect its quality – that consumers crave.” 

According to the report’s findings, 67% of shoppers miss the parts of the in-store experience that are impossible to recreate online.  

Today’s customers are looking for more elements of the digital shopping experience to be featured in store. In particular, they want quick information, price and product comparison data, and customer reviews. And contrary to being hesitant about self-service technology, they positively embrace it. 

Of the survey respondents who do the majority of their shopping online, almost half said that “informative, interactive displays would be the most enticing feature for them to shop in person.”

Digital signage is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s an absolute must-have 

The findings of the report confirm what many have known for some time. If retailers want to grab customers’ attention and get them back through the door, digital signage has to be a top priority. 

As the report states: “Among young shoppers, those 18 to 44 and most likely to shop online, digital screens were noticed exactly as often as print signage.” 

Not only does digital signage offer opportunities for retailers to reconnect with existing customers in-store, it also presents exciting opportunities to capture new shoppers, too. 

Of the respondents who said digital signage was the most noticeable in-store feature:

  • 87% would shop more in person if stores had interactive screens that provide product information, comparisons and reviews 
  • 90% preferred stores that don’t require them to interact with store employees  
  • 50% would be more likely to shop in store if retailers offered self-service options 
  • More than 90% feel that digital screens would save time during their shopping visits 

Millennials want a more digitised in-store experience 

Unsurprisingly, it is millennials who are the biggest drivers of change in in-store shopping. But they don’t just want any change, they want change driven by the right technology. 

This goes against the widely held view that says physical retail spaces are losing younger generations. Younger customers are still willing to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores – as long as those stores meet their expectations. 

The report found that 80% of millennials would rather shop at stores that offer self-service. Meanwhile, 80% of shoppers aged 30 and under would prefer to shop in person if a store provided product information, comparisons and/or reviews on digital screens. This figure is starkly different to the 14% of under 30s who said customer service was a reason to shop in-store. Instead, they’re looking for technology the moment they step through the door. 

However, the report warns that even though most purchasing still takes place in-store, retailers cannot afford to become complacent. It explains that online shopping will continue to grow and retailers will be forced to adapt. 

If you’re looking for ways to make your physical retail space more appealing to customers, Delta can help. Delta Signage can transform the in-store experience and differentiate your brand. Get in touch to find out more: hello@thedeltagroup.co.uk. 

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