Is customer experience better in store?

18th March 2019

According to recent studies, shoppers have a better customer experience in-store than they do online – and more retailers planning to open stores than close them in 2019…

A shop

A couple of weeks ago, Retail Design World released the findings of some research they had conducted with 2,000 shoppers in order to examine how brands could reenergise the retail sector in 2019 – and beyond. Consumers were invited to rate their satisfaction with online and offline customer experience of a selection of retailers including Tesco, Aldi, Amazon and Argos.

The poll revealed that when it comes to customer experience, physical stores were always preferred over their online competitors – apart from Amazon, who scored 28%. The next highest score for online experience was for Argos, at 9%

Near the bottom of the table for in-store experience were department stores with an average score of just 7% and fashion retailers with an average score of just 3%.

A shopper

Speaking about the results, RetailEXPO event director, Matt Bradley explained the findings:

“From a store format perspective grocers, such as Sainsbury’s, have looked at mixed-use formats by introducing fashion, beauty and wellness concepts to become quasi department stores, in order to deliver convenience…and more widely, retailers are looking to redefine the in-store environment to include experiences as well as product in order to engage shoppers who want blended retail and leisure.”

Almost 75% of shoppers who responded to the survey said they spend more time and money in stores that offer a blend of engaging experiences and products. 70% said they would shop elsewhere if retailers failed to meet their expectations.

When discussing their online shopping preferences, respondents appeared to be using Amazon as a benchmark that other online retailers could not live up to, with slow loading times and complicated check outs cited as the main reasons for poor customer experience.

More physical stores opening than closing

Also this month, Geoblink published a report investigating the future of retail intelligence, which concurred that bricks-and-mortar stores are still vital for success, with more retailers planning to open new branches this year, rather than close them.

The findings were based on analysis of survey responses from more than 600 retail professionals in the UK, US, and Spain, in order to discover more about the state of the industry and pinpoint any emerging retail trends for 2019.

In 2018, 46% of retailers were closing stores. In 2019 68% plan to open new ones. According to the study the stores that closed were in the wrong location, with 87% of respondents asserting that the location of the store is absolutely vital for their success.

Over half of retailers reported that bricks-and-mortar stores were their most effective sales channel last year but admitted that they feel threatened by online shopping and that they have opened online concessions too.

Speaking about the findings, Jaime Laulhé, founder and CEO of Geoblink suggested that the report revealed that the retail industry is at a tipping point:

“It is clear that the retailers who make it to the other side will be the ones who are not only capable of collecting data but also understanding what to do with it. Those who glean the most insight as a result of this kind of meaningful analysis will become the retailers of the future.”

What’s your view on physical vs online retail and customer experience? Do your customers prefer one over the other? Let us know in the comments section below!

Picture credits:

Artem Gavrysh and Tristan Colangelo on Unsplash


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