A key finding from the A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study is that, although digital retailing is capturing headlines and inspiring spirited debate as retailers plan investments for the future, physical stores continue to be customers’ preferred shopping channel and a place where the most significant consumer and retailer value is created.
The A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study was based on a survey of 2,500 U.S. shoppers that asked respondents about their shopping preferences and behaviors. The survey covered all age segments—teens, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and seniors.
The study found that stores play a crucial role in online purchases, as two thirds of customers purchasing online use a physical store before or after the transaction. The store makes a significant contribution to converting the sale, even though the transaction is eventually registered online. The source of value creation (brand building, product awareness) is often distinct—or decoupled—from the place of value capture (sales transaction).
Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the report, says, “The decoupling of value capture is important for retailers to understand as they consider resource allocation decisions across channels to ensure that the true value the physical store creates is accounted for properly.”
The survey asked respondents to rank the channels they used in each stage of the shopping journey—discovery, trial and test, purchase, delivery or pickup, and returns. The study results provide retailers with insight into how channel preference differs by category and demographic cohort as well as understand why developing an integrated omnichannel experience is pivotal to retail success.
The analysis of the survey results shows that most shopping experiences are journeys that span multiple channels. Consumer channel preference varies by stage in the shopping journey, although the most common preferred shopping journey is exclusively store-based for each stage. Fifty-five percent of consumers in the survey prefer to use both stores and online throughout the entire journey.
Michael Brown, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-author, says, “A strategy based on leveraging the appeal of the physical store supported by digital is the best formula for capturing the maximum number of sales, building sustainable customer loyalty and creating opportunities to cross-sell.”
Adds Andres Mendoza Pena, A.T. Kearney principal and study co-author, “Whatever the strategy, format or channel, the future of retailing will be characterized by consumer-centricity as operators continue to capitalize on emerging opportunities to better serve the customer demands for ‘anything, anytime, anywhere.'”