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New study: 'Digital is fundamental' to all retail

Published April 28, 2014

NEW YORK — A new study of retail consumer behavior finds the line is blurring between online and brick-and-mortar shopping and that "digital interactions" (including in-store smartphone research and at-home online research) influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in the retail store — and 50 cents of every dollar spent in specialty stores like sporting goods retailers.

The study by Deloitte Digital also posits that brick-and-mortar retailers benefit from showrooming, or at least from encouraging consumers to use their smartphones or tablets in store, perhaps by offering free Wi-FI.

The study found digital shoppers bring higher store traffic, conversion and spending; consumers using a device during their shopping make purchases at a rate 40 percent higher than those who do not use a device. 

A key message from the report is that retailers need to mesh their e-commerce efforts with their stores or risk losing in-store sales to customers who research online.

"Mobile and online transactions represent only a sliver of total retail revenue potential," said Kasey Lobaugh, a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Digital's chief retail innovation officer.

"Retailers that narrowly focus on digital commerce – rather than the full journey that leads to a purchase – often fail to recognize how their customers shop and make decisions in the store. The result is a digital divide between what consumers do and what retailers deliver. This gap not only threatens overall revenue, but requires retailers to reset the way they measure and invest in digital efforts."

For example, savvy e-commerce retailers often regard online shopping cart abandonment as a failed conversion. However, the cart may represent a customer who started his or her wish list in the online basket, and then chose to purchase the items in a store. 

The study relied on a survey commissioned by Deloitte Digital and conducted online by an independent research company from Nov. 15-22, 2013. The survey polled a national sample of 2,006 random consumers.

Among the findings:

  • 84 percent of store visitors use their devices before or during a shopping trip.
  • 22 percent of consumers spend more as a result of using digital; just over half of these shoppers report spending at least 25 percent more than they had intended.
  • 75 percent of respondents said product information found on social channels influenced their shopping behavior and enhanced loyalty.
  • Consumers largely prefer to navigate the aisles and the checkout without a store associate's help. 80 percent of respondents in Deloitte Digital's study said they prefer to obtain product information on their own device or from an in-store device like a kiosk, rather than ask a sales associate.

The full study can be downloaded from Deloitte.com.

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