How important is digital and retail experience for brands?

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Now in its second year, new Shopper Tribes research from Gekko has found that fewer shoppers are researching products online before buying in-store, with numbers falling by 7% over the past year.

As buying behaviours become more complex, with consumers increasingly taking a multi-channel approach when purchasing goods, the relationship between the digital and retail experience is ever more important for brands.

Recent research conducted by Epson Europe  found that the majority of UK purchases are still made in-store, with 55% still visiting the high street when making considered purchases. However, the gap is closing, with online sales in the UK making up the largest share in Europe, 7% above the average.

The study also found that 20% of shoppers used mobile devices whilst in-store to make purchases online. Rather than purchase in retail, these shoppers preferred to use the high street to guide their online purchases.

With smartphones now in almost every pocket, shoppers are becoming more connected in-store, increasingly using their devices to compare prices on the shop floor.

Gekko identified that younger generations are also increasingly using social media to guide their shopping experience, with 14% of 18 to 35 year olds using Facebook to ‘check-in’ to stores, and 15% using social media to discuss products with friends.

While brand engagement over social media is far less prevalent among older generations, they are increasingly using online research to aid in their purchasing decisions, with 58% of those 55 and over making use of online research before making purchases in-store. Across the generations, the online experience, be that through social media or product research, is becoming more of an influence on shoppers in relation to those rewarding considered purchases.

Although fewer consumers on average are researching online before buying in-store, the importance of a omni-channel approach remains clear for brands. Although nearly half of sales are now made online, a figure which will likely increase, the primary motivation for consumers for shopping in-store remains: ‘the ability to see and touch the product’. This desire to engage in the brand experience is common with considered purchasing decisions associated with high ticket consumer electronics and luxury brands.

The benefits of the in-store experience can outweigh the convenience of shopping online. Brands need to combine their approach with seamless branding between online and in-store, streamlining the overall brand experience for consumers.

Matching online branding in-store can assist sales by improving product recall, and likewise employing brand ambassadors to guide consumers through the in-store journey can help convey the unique selling points of your products.

By using an integrated approach, brands can guide the shopper journey from ATL or online to in-store, converting shoppers into customers of your brand.

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