Consumers still prefer in-store holiday shopping, survey says

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Even with the rise of e-commerce, most consumers prefer to shop in-store over any other methods (online, mobile or social media), as evidenced by the stated preference of 54 percent of respondents from the third annual JDA Consumer Survey.

And, it’s apparent that shoppers value their time: 75 percent stated they favored a quick and easy shopping experience where the merchandise they want is in-stock over being offered a personalized experience.

During the next months of holiday shopping, retailers will find success by combining the convenience of unified commerce solutions that consumers demand with the right inventory visibility and well-trained staff to create a seamless holiday shopping experience at the store level.

The annual survey insights reveal several key findings that show convenience is an integral part of customers’ shopping experience – whether it’s to return an item or obtain a product sooner – retailers have an opportunity to capitalize on fulfillment services like “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store” (BOPIS) and “Buy Online, Return In-Store” (BORIS) to achieve profitability this holiday season and garner in-store foot traffic.

“Throughout the year, JDA has surveyed a variety of audiences – from the consumer, to store manager and to the CEO – to get a 360-degree view into the unified commerce environment and key drivers for growth and competitive edge, as well as the stumbling blocks to success for retailers,” said Jim Prewitt, vice president, retail industry strategy, JDA. “These findings collectively are pertinent as the holiday season is upon us and shed light on the areas retailers have an opportunity to best fulfill customer expectations while reaping profitable sales this season.”

The JDA Consumer Survey findings, announced in July, revealed that consumers are fully embracing in-store fulfillment due to the convenience it provides. In fact, half of respondents reported that they have used BOPIS in the last 12 months, which saw a 44 percent increase since the 2015 JDA Voice of the Consumer survey. The ability to get the product sooner was stated as the top reason shoppers chose to use BOPIS (33 percent of respondents).

For retailers looking to leverage BOPIS to drive in-store foot traffic, offering incentives may be the key. Eighty percent of respondents stated they would consider using the service if retailers offered price discounts or incentives. This would in turn add value to the consumer shopping experience, while pushing retailers to differentiate themselves among competitors through special offers.

Preparing for the holiday season also includes preparing for the returns afterwards. Consumers have a clear desire for easier returns, as over 30 percent of respondents used BORIS to avoid the hassle of returns online. And almost one in five respondents (17 percent) believed they would receive their refund or exchange faster through this service.

“This is a crucial opportunity for retailers looking to develop a unified customer experience that exists both online and in-stores,” said Prewitt. “Promoting convenience will be critical in driving brick-and-mortar foot traffic; retailers will need to execute these fulfillment services flawlessly to maintain customer loyalty.”

It’s clear that retailers are also embracing store fulfillment and recognizing the staffing requirements needed to enable BOPIS and BORIS services. According to CEO Viewpoint: The Transformation of Retail survey findings announced in February, retail CEOs are increasing their investment in BOPIS, with 51 percent of survey respondents saying they offer or plan to offer BOPIS in the next 12 months – up from 47 percent in 2016.

By offering these fulfillment services, it’s important that retailers are equipped to meet customer demands. Based on the second annual JDA Voice of the Store Manager survey findings, announced in September, 60 percent of store managers plan to hire the same amount of temporary labor for the 2017 holiday season as they did last year; while 24 percent plan to hire more this year.

However, the focus of the seasonal staff may be changing to meet customer demand; over 40 percent of seasonal holiday hires will be for fulfillment at stores/warehouses and not customer-facing. The other fulfillment area that store managers are planning to increase hiring for is BOPIS, with one in three respondents hiring temporary staff specifically for the service this year.

“These results illustrate that store managers are in tune with customer expectations, particularly leading into the crucial holiday shopping season,” said Prewitt. “Increasing BOPIS staffing, for example, will eliminate some of the challenges shoppers have had with the service, like long wait times and associates having trouble finding their items. Unified commerce execution is a theme we have seen repeatedly across four surveys this year.”