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Shoppers Still Prefer In-Store Over Online Shopping

Shoppers Still Prefer In-Store Over Online Shopping
Credit: Connel/Shutterstock

Although online shopping may be more convenient, shoppers still prefer to make their purchases inside an actual store, new research finds.

Nearly 40 percent of consumers make purchases inside a physical store at least once a week, compared to just 27 percent who do the same online, according to PwC's annual consumer survey.

Even though online shopping may be easier than going to a store, many different factors are driving shoppers' decisions to make the trek out to a store. The research found that 65 percent of consumers said they shop in-store to avoid delivery fees, while more than 60 percent said it allows them to have the item immediately. Additionally, 61 percent said they like trying on the item or seeing it in person before buying it.

Other reasons shoppers prefer brick-and-mortar shopping include that they like to support local businesses and it makes returns easier. Despite their preference for buying things in-store, consumers are still using online outlets as part of their shopping process. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed spend time browsing products online before buying them at a physical store.

"For the past several years, the story around retail stores was 'showrooming,' in which stores were places to display items for online purchase," Steven Barr, PwC U.S. retail and consumer practice leader, said in a statement. "However, this year's survey results reveal that the online shop has also become a showroom where shoppers research and compare prices for later, in-store purchases."

While many retailers are beefing up their mobile shopping efforts, it remains more of an instrument to get to the point of buying a product, rather than a tool for the actual purchase, according to the study. About half of those surveyed in the U.S. have researched products on their mobile phones, while nearly the same percentage have used them for price comparisons. [The Future of Social Commerce: Shopping On Twitter, Pinterest and Beyond ]

Overall, less than 10 percent of those surveyed make purchases via mobile devices on a weekly basis.

Security issues top the reasons why consumers are hesitant to shop on their smartphones or tablets. One-third of the U.S. consumers surveyed said they do not use their smartphones or tablets for shopping due to security concerns, while 77 percent said they are wary about having their credit card information hacked.

Social media is also playing an increasingly important role in the shopping process for consumers. Even though only 4 percent of U.S. consumers have purchased items via social media, 36 percent said their interactions with brands on social media has led them to buy more from these brands.

Barr said that integrating technology, along with the power to engage on social media, has enhanced the consumer experience.

"As these disruptions continue to influence the shoppers' purchase journey, the retail store will likely become an experiential venue for both online and non-online purchases," Barr said. "From in-store design studios and personal shopping assistants, to coffee and tea ateliers, retailers are offering a comprehensive experience, evolving into something sleeker, more customized and increasingly attuned to shoppers' expectations of what the in-store experience should be."

In order to keep shoppers coming back, brick-and-mortar stores will need to become more tailored to the digital age, the study's authors noted.

"Consumers are seeking retail 'experiences' over simple purchase transactions, which is inspiring landlords and retailers to collaborate on making the destination more enjoyable, convenient and memorable," said Byron Carlock, PwC's U.S. real estate practice leader. "For the physical store to remain relevant today, retailers should adapt to consumer preferences."

The study was based on surveys of more than 19,000 consumers around the world.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily and business.com, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.

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