Online or In-Store: What’s Your Fit?

Someone recently said to me in-store is a goner” and I couldn’t help but feel defensive. I politely disagreed and stated that it’s changing, but in my opinion, isn’t going anywhere.

In a recent consumer survey by Retail Dive, I felt the same defense mechanism kicking in again. Ultimately, it states that consumers prefer to shop for nearly all products online. It inspired me to do a survey of my friends, family, and co-workers.

  1. The 50-something - Meet James. He’s an extrovert. He insists on buying shoes and clothing in-store because he wants to make sure it fits. He also always gets his groceries in-store and can’t fathom trying to purchase everything he needs for his family anywhere but the grocery store. He recently researched a grill in numerous places online but ended up purchasing it in-store. Housewares and consumer electronics? He buys those online.
  2. The 40-Something - Ben is an introvert and is a major mix between an online and in-store shopper. The first time he buys something, it’s almost always in-store, but his repeat purchases are just about all placed online. He enjoys a good scotch that he gets locally but has ordered cases of wine online. He and his wife order their groceries online and pick them up in-store. Sporting goods? Well, he likes to swing the club before he swipes his card.
  3. The 30-Something - Amanda is an introvert who often gets mistaken for an extrovert. She buys all her groceries online for delivery but likes to get everything else in-store. She enjoys the experience of trying items on to ensure a good fit. Local businesses and companies with an environment angle matter to her. For high consideration products, she researches extensively online, even hops back and forth, but always ends up in-store for the purchase.
  4. The 20-Something - Jess is an extroverted-introvert. Her groceries, wine, and make-up purchases all take place in-store, but she goes online for nearly everything else including furniture, clothing, electronics, and appliances. Jess researches to find deals and the quickest availability, often remaining brand agnostic. The one thing she could never fathom purchasing online? Mattresses are a hard online no. 

It’s definitely rare for people to shop around” in-store and the initial discovery process seems to almost always take place online. That digital discovery process very much influences the dollars spent in-store. I agree online is an incredibly important piece of the omnichannel puzzle, but shopping and purchasing are different. I still believe a lot of transactions happen in-store. What are you doing to increase foot traffic and provide a consistent experience to your customers? It should come down to who your customer is and what type of product you’re selling.

Curious on more findings from Retail Dive’s consumer survey to help evolve your retail plan? Check out part two of the series here.