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What Consumers Love (and Hate) About Retail Stores | WMI

14 Jul 2017 Ann D'Adamo

in Fashion

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Online shopping has never been easier, just a few taps on your mobile phone and you can have almost anything delivered to your doorstep. While consumers appreciate its convenience, online shopping has yet to fully replicate the sensory aspects of the retail experience. Seventy-two percent of Americans cite the ability to touch, feel, and try on products as a top reason for shopping in-store and 77% of women say it’s the primary reason they shop in-store instead of online. In fact, 68% of all apparel and footwear items are still purchased in-store. But the shopping experience goes beyond simply touching and trying on clothes—atmosphere, the joy of discovery, and a human touch all play an important role in keeping customers coming back.

The Power of Now

Consumers are used to getting what they want, when they want it. The information revolution has made it easy to have any question answered within seconds, but speed of delivery has not quite caught up to Google (yet!) and the desire for instant gratification keeps consumers going back into stores. Sixty-six percent of Americans say the convenience of getting their desired items instantly is a top reason for shopping in-store. For younger consumers, this is particularly important, with 62% of younger Millennials (18-24) and 56% of older Millennials (25-34) indicating this as a top factor for purchasing in-store.

Shopping Is Fun!

Consumers still view shopping as entertainment. Forty-eight percent of Americans say the ability to browse and discover new things is a top reason to shop brick and mortar stores. The store’s atmosphere plays an important role in driving consumers into retail. Among consumers 18-24, one-in-three consider atmosphere and experience a top reason to shop in-store rather than online. Plus, setting the right mood encourages consumers to shop—37% of consumers say being in the mood to shop drives them to make impulse purchases. What sets the right mood? Music! 83% of consumers say they like hearing music in-store and this number rockets to 91% among those 18-24. Eighty one percent say music lifts their mood and 70% agree that the right music makes the brand more relatable. In addition to sound, other sensory experiences, such as “Instagrammable” visuals and delightful scents create a branded atmosphere that engages shoppers. When the whole experience comes together, 59% of shoppers say they’re more likely to revisit, 54% will recommend to others, and 48% will stay (and shop) longer.

The Power of Mobile In-Store

Even when consumers are in-store, mobile is not out of reach. Eighty three percent of consumers compare prices, 80% look for product information and 78% search for store promotions while shopping in brick and mortar stores. It’s essential that retail brands have a seamless omnichannel strategy that connects online and offline channels and blend that technology into the retail experience. Invite the mobile experience into brick and mortar through social media, redeemable discount codes, and other engagement tools such as live voting on in-store music (46% of store shoppers would like to influence music in-store!).

What Retailers Haven’t Quite Figured Out

Now the flip side. Everything consumers love about digital shopping is everything they dislike about shopping in stores—online shoppers never have to wait to pay, deal with crowds, and online shops are never closed. Sixty percent of consumers agree that waiting in line to check out is the worst thing about shopping in store. Equally frustrating is finding the item you want is out of stock (47%), stores that are too crowded (43%), difficulty finding a sales associate (33%), and inconvenient store hours (22%). As retailers continue to streamline the online and offline experience, it’s possible that technology can help alleviate some of these frustrations.

Having a better understanding of what drives consumers into stores, what inspires them to shop, and what frustrates them can help guide retailers in creating better in-store experiences. Women’s Marketing offers our clients decades of experience and an unparalleled understanding of how women discover, search, and shop and how to drive e-commerce and retail growth.

Contact us today!

Sources: eMarketer US Shoppers Still Prefer to Make Most Purchases In-Store, March 2017,