Far from being pushed into the sidelines by Web-based and mobile technological advances, physical stores owned by large retail chains and small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), remain central to the majority of consumers' shopping experience, according to a retail and technology expert.
For many businesses, the best strategy may be a combination of online and mobile customer touch points anchored in a physical store, according to Tadd Wilson, worldwide strategy and business development expert for the retail store solution, system and technology group of IBM.
There are many explanations behind this but it all boils down to evolution, he says.
“People may be using up-to-the-minute technology, but our brains are basically wired the same way they were 10s of thousands of years ago,” Wilson said, during the IBM Retail Fall Showcase held at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. Browsing through a store, touching merchandise and finally making a purchase still fulfills a need in consumers, he says.
Surveys also indicate that despite the ubiquity to online shopping sites, people tend to prefer getting their information about products from more traditional sources.
“The number one source where consumers learn about products and compare prices is through TV. The number two source is the store,” said Wilson.
Far from keeping people locked to their screens as virtual shoppers, today's technologies are driving more consumers into physical stores, according to Wilson.
“The very technology that makes shoppers mobile is bringing them back to the store to finalize the purchase,” said Wilson.
The top seven uses of mobile phones for shopping purposes are:
75 per cent - identify store location
71 per cent - check/compare price
66 per cent - check store inventory
66 per cent - receive promotions
60 per cent - locate product in-store
58 per cent - get product info
50 per cent - pay for product in-store
The message, he said, is that shoppers still interact with brands through the in-store shopping experience despite the proliferation of mobile devices and other tech tools.
What do you think is the biggest advantage of having a physical location? Share your input in a comment below!