Understanding omnishoppers is key.

Are we living in a retail apocalypse, or is it something different altogether? There’s no doubt that we’re in a period of great transformation in retail – some of it painful – but there is a vibrant future emerging for retailers who understand omnichannel behavior. To further shed light on the issue, we went right to the source and asked omnishoppers – those who regularly shop across channels and devices – what they think. The Shopper Story is a global initiative designed to better understand more about shopper journeys and the influences that get shoppers to buy. We uncovered a lot that was contrary to what many in our industry believe.

The biggest myth of all is that the retail store is dead.

Shoppers say that shopping online and offline fulfills different needs. In most countries, the percentage of omnishoppers who say they prefer to do most of their shopping online is roughly equal to those who say that they enjoy shopping in retail stores when they have time. Stores are also valued as places to learn about new types of goods and as sources of entertainment in time-pressed lives.

“In the US, while 69% of omnishoppers say they prefer to do most of their shopping online, 74% say they look forward to shopping in retail stores when they have time.”

Criteo Shopper Story, US, 2017

Omnishoppers noted the things that would drive them into stores again. In the era of artificial intelligence and chatbots, knowledgeable salespeople count more than ever. The shoppers we surveyed said that they would also like new ways to try products in store. Shopper attitudes confirmed emergent trends in retail, such as the store as experience center and product showroom.

It’s also not true that online purchases typically start at search.

People may be using search for general information gathering, but typically only one-third of them start their online purchase journey there. The role of retail sites is often overshadowed by reports about Amazon. And it’s true: For a large number of shoppers Amazon is a defacto product search engine, but retail sites hold special appeal for high-intent shoppers.

Omnishoppers say that they most often choose a retail site when they know the type of item or item they want to buy. Here, the decades of customer relationships that retailers have cultivated come into play. Shoppers may be choosing online as their buying mechanism regardless of where that purchase actually takes place. With many stores offering in store “Click & Ship” or “Click & Collect” that drives them into a retail outlet for pick-up, “bricks & clicks” retailers have a distinct advantage over Amazon as they have a fully distributed footprint.

Want more on the topic? Check out Part 2 of “Omnishopper Perspectives”.

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