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Ecommerce Is Growing, But Customers Still Prefer Shopping in Stores

Even with increases in delivery time and improved online experiences, people still like to physically buy many types of goods, a new study says.
Ecommerce Is Growing, But Customers Still Prefer Shopping in Stores
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Even with the rise of ecommerce, nothing beats an in-store shopping experience. Aside from books, electronics and office supplies, a majority of people still prefer to shop in a physical store, according to the Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 report.

The report, which surveyed more than 1,400 U.S. consumers, revealed surprising predictions about the growing importance of supply chains and future of retail.

Related: Is the Death of Brick-and-Mortar Retail a Myth?

Although people might prefer to shop in stores, there’s been a year-over-year increase in the frequency of online purchases since 2014. Today, nearly a third of consumers say they shop online at least once a week -- a 41 percent increase from two years ago.

Improvements in the supply chain are helping fuel this growth, as consumers demand fast and reliable ways to purchase and receive items. With Amazon and third-party logistics providers improving inventory management practices and fulfillment and delivery procedures, frequent online shoppers expect a variety of shipping options such as same-day and overnight delivery.

The main incentives to shop online today are free shipping, one-day shipping and free returns. Nine in 10 consumers admit that free shipping make them more likely to shop online.

Related: 12 Ways to Increase Online Sales

This holiday season, most shoppers (76 percent) plan to do their shipping through their smartphones or tablets because of convenience. Websites such as Amazon and eBay will be the most popular sites, according to a report by AMEX. On average, shoppers -- online and in stores -- are predicted to spend $908 on gifts alone this year, a $69 increase from last year.  

As amazing and fast ecommerce and the supply chain have become, more consumers purchase items in-store rather than online. Ninety-two percent of groceries are purchased in stores, followed by 77 percent of consumer packaged goods and 76 percent of clothing and apparel. That doesn’t mean people won’t purchase these items online, however. More than half of polled consumers say they would be willing to do their grocery shopping online. More than a quarter of respondents say they would buy online all other categories, from books to clothing to electronics.

Related: Why the Future of Retail Will Blow Your Mind

Walker Sands predicts that the physical and online shopping worlds will eventually collide. Brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to incorporate mobile technology to improve in-store experiences by offering discounts, coupons and loyalty rewards programs. The agency also predicts virtual reality technology will provide “in-store” ecommerce experiences.

Edition: December 2016

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