Consumers prefer in-store over online experience

When price isn't a factor, more than half of consumers would prefer to visit a brick-and-mortar location, especially for food.

After years of “the sky is falling” predictions on bricks-and-mortar retailers, there seems to be a bit of stabilization – at least as far as the research is concerned.

A recent Salesforce study found that while the majority of consumers (55%) turn to online channels when searching for the best price, 53% prefer customer service offered at the in-store level. That being said, the generation gap (unsurprisingly) continues, with 63% of baby boomers saying they would rather shop in-store (if the price is the same for a specific product), versus 40% of millennials. Respondents said they had a better experience with product selection online (53% versus 28% in-stores), while both fared reasonably well on the promotion/offer scale (35% for online, 40% for brick-and-mortar).

In-store is also the preferred destination for food (95%), home goods (69%), clothing/accessory (67%) and luxury (55%) purchases. Retail, brand and e-comm websites in comparison fell far short with food (3%), though it caught up a bit with clothing/accessories (29%), home (28%) and luxury (24%) goods.

Online reviews continue to drive purchase, with 69% of adults who’ve purchased a consumer good in the last 12 months saying they’ve consulted reviews prior to buying.

Retailers’ websites continue to dominate most research, with 55% of adults consulting them in the shopping process, followed by brands’ websites (52%), news articles (21%) and email interaction with brands (15%). One-quarter of millennials will turn to social channels when researching brands (compared to 5% of boomers and 16% of Gen Xers). In an offline world, in-store/in-person is the most common way for consumers to research (54%), followed by word of mouth (40%).

Online reviews are considered the most trustworthy source of information (31%), followed by friends and family (23%). The brand and retailers come in third and fourth in the trustworthy list.

Negative reactions to brands typically come from ads, the study found. In fact, 45% of consumers said they have negative reactions when seeing an online ad, with invasive ads topping the list (61% – hear that? stop with the pop-ups), followed by annoying or interruptive (57% – seriously, stop with the pop-ups. Or worse, pop-unders).

Personalization continues to be a strong theme among consumers, with 33% saying they’d be willing to share personal info (such as location or purchase history) in exchange for discounts or personalized service. Points and rewards continue to be the primary reason consumers sign up for loyalty programs (83%), followed by getting better deals (74%), better service (27%) and to have a closer relationship with the brand (14%).

The study polled 2,095 adults in the U.S. from May 9-11.

Image courtesy Shutterstock