Online shopping not yet the demise of retailers

The demise of the retail store at the hands of the internet may have been “greatly exaggerated”, according to a new report.

PwC’s annual global survey of more than 11,000 online shoppers looks at the 10 myths of “multi-channel” shopping.

The 10 myths covered include:

  • Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel.
  • Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future.
  • The tablet will overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device.
  • As the world gets smaller, global consumers are getting more alike.
  • China is the future model for online retail.
  • Domestic retailers will always enjoy a "home field" advantage over global retailers.
  • Global online pure players like Amazon will always enjoy a scale advantage over domestic online pure players.
  • Retailers are inherently better positioned than brands, as they are closest to the consumer.
  • Online retail is cannibalising sales in other channels.
  • Low price is the main driver of customer spend at their favourite retailers.

The report says far from cannibalising store traffic and turning physical locations into showrooms or museum pieces, web product research drives far more shoppers to buy an item instore.

With the exception of those wanting books and music, most consumers either research and then buy their products in-store, or research online before buying in store.

The biggest numbers of respondents buying in-store, more than 84%, are buying groceries, while furniture has the next biggest proportion of in-store shoppers at 82%.

Worryingly for some retailers, fewer than 40% of people buying books and music make their purchases in store.

The rest either buy online or do their research in-store first before turning to online shopping.

Five percent of shoppers buying clothes did their research in-store and bought online. This represented the biggest share of store-to-web buyers.

The report recommends chief executives and managers should not take anything for granted and says the should consider offering an online retail option to complement the retailer’s physical store.

It says, despite common misconceptions, online channels are not cannibalising the sales of their respective retailers, with nearly one in five respondents saying they are spending at least 25% more.

However, a HorizonPoll survey a fortnight ago paints a somewhat different picture.

As reported in the NBR ONLINE, the research showed about 15 in every 100 adult New Zealand shoppers with internet access are looking at items in stores – then buying online.

And nearly seven in 100 are buying online from a different retailer than the one which showed them or let them try on items.

The survey of 2425 New Zealanders nationwide finds 14.6% of adults are indulging in what is known overseas as “showrooming”.

That equates to about 425,000 adult shoppers.

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For what its worth, here is the actual PwC article:

Saves other poor mugs like me searching for it :)

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