A longing for the advantages of purchasing in-store, coupled with growing frustrations with the online experience are fuelling eagerness to return to bricks-and-mortar shopping, according to new consumer research commissioned by Emarsys. 

The survey revealed that more than half (55%) of consumers would still prefer to shop in-store if Covid wasn’t a consideration. A further 31% would prefer to shop both in-store and online. Meanwhile, just 10% would prefer to shop solely online. 

When asked what they miss about shopping in-store, trying things on in-store (49%) came out on top, followed by a desire to touch and see things up close (48.5%) and a pining for the experience of being in a physical store (30%).

Other consumers miss the availability of choice when shopping in-store (17%), while just over a fifth of shoppers complained of ending up with items that aren’t quite right when unable to see them in person. Meanwhile, 17% of consumers miss the personal service offered in store. 

“Coming out of lockdown, retailers should not underestimate the value of a premium in-store experience in building customer loyalty,” Emarsys managing director for Asia Pacific, Adam Ioakim said.

“While online shopping has its many advantages, being able to replicate the experience of trying out items or being able to see and touch them in the flesh remains a challenge. Retailers with an online presence should also take note to ensure that their digital offerings provide an immersive experience.”

Emarsys’ findings also revealed consumers’ major turn offs when shopping online, including failure of free returns (50%), items becoming unavailable at checkout (45%), poor customer service experience (41%), inaccurate product images or not seeing the item shown (39%), and a difficult or lengthy returns process (33%).

Further, the kinds of offerings and experiences consumers want to see in the future include greater loyalty benefits (51%), more customisation of offers, promotions and marketing to their preferences (20%), faster click and collect offerings (21.5%) and having multiple click and collect options (18%). 

“The option of click and collect offers the same kind of convenience in having an item available straight away when shopping in-store, but when the experience fails to deliver on this, consumers will be very easily turned off. An inconvenient click and collect process is in fact enough to turn off more than a fifth of consumers from shopping with a retailer,” Ioakim added.

Consumers also concerned about supply chains this Christmas

Other new research from Emarsys titled, All I Want for Christmas, has confirmed consumer concerns around supply chain pressures with nearly one-third (30%) of Australians concerned that their Christmas purchases will not arrive on time.

Additionally, two-fifths wished for more time to think about selecting and purchasing presents this holiday season. However, given the significant disruption of the global supply chain, consumers cannot afford the luxury of time and 14% are worried they will end up panic buying.  

Other major concerns include overspending (22%), leaving Christmas shopping too late and missing out (20%), and their gift falling short of expectations (11%).

When asked what makes the Christmas shopping experience less enjoyable, consumers revealed lack of inspiration (40%) and general lack of personalised ideas (37%) to be the leading deterrents. On the flipside, the biggest factors giving consumers confidence to buy Christmas gifts this season are ideas from retailers (44%) and a personalised shopping experience (23%). 

“These findings highlight the growing consumer expectations of personalised services. With the busiest shopping period of the year almost upon us, it’s vital marketers and retailers understand what consumers want, how they shop for Christmas and their frustrations,” Ioakim said.

“Our research revealed consumers are looking for more ideas from retailers, so to create more enjoyable experiences for customers, retailers must have the right tools in place to target them with the right incentive, at the right time, and on the right channel.”