Physical retail a strong starting point for Canadian shoppers (study)

Digital channels are a common first stop globally but brick-and-mortar isn't dead yet.

A new study of global shopping behaviour suggests brick-and-mortar retail remains a preferred and influential channel in making purchase decisions.

The survey of 6,000 shoppers from Canada, the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Australia, conducted by Salesforce and SapientRazorfish, indicated the majority of shoppers prefer to begin and end their shopping experience in a physical store. This includes even the 18-24 Gen Z cohort, which said they prefer physical shopping to online 59% to 41%.

When asked when they “start their hunt” for retail products, digital channels are the overwhelming choice for global shoppers; 60% said websites, apps, online marketplaces, social media and search engines are their first stop.

However, Canadian shoppers indexed high on physical retail as a starting point – 42% said they start in-store, the highest of any geographical group. The second-most popular starting channel for Canadians was search engines at 17% of respondents, and another 17% said retailer and brand websites and apps kicked things off.

And as many business invest in home delivery operations to compete with Amazon’s cavalcade of new offerings, the study also says physical locations are a preferred location to pick-up products ordered online. Among the age groups studied, only those over the age of 55 said they were only “somewhat” or “not at all” interested in in-store pickup of online purchases. The majority of the other demographics (even those 18- to 24-years of age) were “very” or “moderately” interested in in-store pickup.

The study also tries to quantify the value of in-store marketing for repeat purchase behaviour. Personalized promotions, exclusive social events, early access to new products and in-store demonstrations were cited as the most effective experiences to drive repeat store visits.