If you spent 30 minutes driving around the mall parking lot so you could pick up that last-minute holiday gift, the following statistic may not come as a surprise to you. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), 91% of consumers made a retail purchase at a brick-and-mortar store this past holiday season. With the growing popularity of online retail outlets like Amazon and eBay, it is clear that more and more people are turning toward the internet to make purchases. While online purchases are undoubtedly increasing, the apparent benefits of shopping at a physical store simply cannot be replaced, and the line between an online and offline purchase is becoming less distinct.
Shoppers cite seeing, touching and trying on merchandise as the number-one reason to make their purchases in-store, along with the ability to get the item right away. With this in mind, savvy consumers are using online capabilities to enhance their shopping experience at physical stores. The ICSC found that 60% of holiday shoppers used their mobile devices to compare prices and check reviews while in-store shopping. The study also showed that 56% of shoppers used the internet to research the products they were about to buy before heading to the store this past holiday season. Additionally, the ICSC study stated that 32% of holiday consumers bought products online and picked up their purchases in-store. More consumers are also taking advantage of the ability to return their online purchases to retail establishments. Even e-commerce giant Amazon proved that it recognizes the value of a physical location in opening its first brick-and-mortar stores in 2015.
While this study and the fact that online purchases only account for less than 10% of total retail sales prove that brick-and-mortar stores will not soon become a thing of the past, it is critical that retailers continually work to establish an online presence that will not only increase their sales but also enhance the customer’s in-store experience.
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