As Lightspeed's vice president of marketing, I’m always on the hunt for ways to empower retailers with insights that help them adapt in an industry that’s constantly changing. It’s our mission to remove any barriers they face along the way.
In my conversations with retailers, the same questions come up time and time again: things like how they can get discovered by more customers online and how to translate those site visits into in-store traffic. We launched our Summer Shopping Habits Survey to help answer another frequent question: Does seasonality affect consumer behavior?
As a data nerd, I wanted the survey to provide actionable insights based on empirical customer data. With that in mind, we asked respondents to project how many times they’ll shop per month, how much they’ll spend per trip, which types of products they’ll purchase most, and their preferred ways to shop between June 1 and August 30, 2019.
Based on our survey responses, one theme became clear: consumers would rather shop in-store than online.
Let’s dive into our findings and tackle how retailers can increase their store’s online discoverability and their in-store foot traffic.
Physical Retail Reigns Supreme With Consumers
A decade ago, many industry experts predicted that brick-and-mortar retail would eventually be replaced by e-commerce. In retrospect, that couldn’t be further from reality.
Rather than overtake physical retail as the preferred point of purchase, e-commerce cemented itself as the primary touchpoint for consumers.
Take webrooming, for example. Eighty-seven percent of consumers say they research what to buy online before even setting foot in a store. When a shopper walks through a retailer’s door, they already have a strong idea of what they want and are ready to buy. This wouldn’t have been possible in a pre-e-commerce world.
Of the people we polled, the majority (42 percent) said they prefer shopping in-store rather than online (24 percent) during the summer months. This aligns with trends in total in-store and online sales. In 2018, e-commerce sales grew by 15 percent and reached $517 billion, but that pales in comparison to total in-store retail sales, which reached $3,620 billion.
Physical retail accounts for over 85 percent of total retail sales because it offers consumers an interactive shopping experience that’s difficult for e-commerce to fully replicate (trust me, we’re working on it). Consumers can get an immediate sense of whether a product is right for them —whether it’s a sweater or a bicycle — without worrying about delivery logistics or complicated online return policies.
What This Means for Retailers
Over the years I’ve watched e-commerce evolve and become a catalyst for in-store traffic, with consumers using websites to research products, and check store hours and inventory levels before leaving the house.
I’ve seen firsthand how retailers whose online and in-store experiences complement one another reap the financial rewards. Merchants using our omnichannel solutions typically see a 20 percent growth in sales in the first year.
Physical Retail Isn’t Dead ...
It’s just evolving.
In my conversations with customers, I’ve seen over and over how important it is for retailers to have a clear strategy for getting discovered online, using their online store to drive in-store traffic, and offering a seamless shopping experience.
While this is easy to say, it can be a challenge to deliver. Some retailers are late to adapt, partly because creating a truly omnichannel experience used to require investing a lot of time and money.
Today, omnichannel point-of-sale solutions help retailers sync their online and brick-and-mortar stores and create the same personalized, customer-centric shopping experiences once exclusively used by big-box retailers with huge budgets.
And if there’s one trend that’s true regardless of the season, it’s that if you prioritize your customer experience, consumers will choose to shop at your store over the competition.
Now, that’s a trend I think is worth celebrating.
Related story: Retailers Must Unify In-Store, Online Customer Experiences
Lory Ajamian is the VP of Marketing at Lightspeed, the leading point of sale provider for independent retailers, online merchants, and restaurateurs. Graduating from McGill University with a degree in Mathematics and Statistics, Lory has a decade of experience in sales operations, data, and lead generation.