4 Reasons Brick-and-Mortar Continues to Win Over E-Commerce

Even in an age where technology rules, people prefer shopping in store. Long live Brick-And-Mortar.

4 Reasons Brick-and-Mortar Continues to Win Over E-Commerce

Today, it’s no longer necessary to get into a car and drive to a store. Shopping can be as easy as turning on a computer or smartphone, finding an item, and buying.

As easy as online shopping can be, does it truly satisfy all of the consumer’s demands, or is there still a strong desire to shop in a brick-and-mortar store?

To uncover this answer, Retail Dive surveyed 1,425 U.S. consumers. In this survey, shoppers were asked a series of questions about their buying behaviors. The goal? To shed better light on exactly how consumers shop, and what matters most to them in the retail environment.

The results showed that, overall, most consumers favor the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Here are the four biggest takeaways from the survey:

1. Try Before You Buy Tops Most Shoppers List of Benefits

Perhaps not surprisingly, the response that dominated shopper’s preferences was the ability to “see, touch, feel, and try out items.” 62% of respondents said they appreciated the opportunity to try before they buy as the most important part of the shopping experience, with women in particular preferring the ability to experience their products before making the decision to purchase.

It’s easy to assume that age plays a role in the desire to see, touch, and feel something before making a purchase. After all, older generations grew up in a world where shopping in-store and trying on clothes before making a purchase was the norm. However, this assumption proved to be untrue as both young and old shoppers said they prefer to have the opportunity to try an item before making a purchase.

2. Instant Gratification Was a Close Second

49% of respondents said that the ability to take items home immediately was a big driver when it came to choosing brick-and-mortar stores over shopping online.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to e-commerce companies. Amazon continues to try to match consumers’ need for instant gratification – first, with Prime 2-day shipping, and then overnight shipping. Talk of package delivery by drones in some areas has been circulating as well. Still, no matter what online retailers do, none of these tactics will provide the truly instant gratification today’s consumers want.

3. The Ability to Return Items More Easily is Important

Let’s face it. Retailers constantly try to reduce retail apparel returns. That’s true across the board for both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce stores. Still, exchanges happen, and when they do, shoppers want a simple, painless process.

20% of consumers said they choose to shop in stores because they’re able to return items more easily. Perhaps this is the reason why so many e-commerce stores have started to offer free returns (and why Amazon requires free returns of their sellers). Still, consumers like the return process to be just as instantaneous as the purchase process, which means brick-and-mortar stores have a marked advantage.

4. The In-Store Experience is Enjoyable

Chatbots, speedy responses to emails and around-the-clock phone support can’t beat a face-to-face conversation with a sales associate or an in-store shopping experience with a friend.

18% of respondents said they enjoy shopping in stores for the social aspect. It’s more enjoyable for consumers to have other people around while making decisions. These people can be your sales associates who help the buyer find the right size, or a friend who makes a judgment call on a color. No matter who offers the advice, buyers like it enough to opt for the in-store experience over online. This response was consistent for both men and women alike.

Takeaways

You can’t beat the tangibility and speed of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Although women most prefer the ability to try before they buy, men and younger shoppers appreciate faster purchase speeds. Even rural customers preferred going to stores to try items and take their purchases home with them right away.
What does this mean for brick-and-mortar retailers? Although it’s hard to ignore the benefits of e-commerce, it’s important to note the reason why consumers continue to shop in-store. Give your shoppers a way to see, try, and feel products before they buy, make the shopping experience a delight, and you’ll continue to attract consumers to your retail store.