Consumers Return to Shopping in Stores With More Digital Support
Consumers are returning to stores this holiday shopping season, but they’re bringing their pandemic-induced digital shopping habits with them. Shoppers are blending in-store browsing and discovery with the convenience of online shopping. In another extraordinary holiday shopping season, retailers must ensure that digital and physical shopping experiences are closely coordinated.
Casual browsing is back: Morning Consult’s weekly research reveals consumers are becoming more comfortable with in-store shopping this holiday season. At the same time, consumers still enjoy the convenience of the digital channels they’ve learned to love since the start of the pandemic, leading to a more mixed approach to holiday shopping relative to 2020’s reliance on e-commerce. Retailers who have invested in unified commerce are well-positioned to support this blended shopping style, while those that are not may struggle for a competitive advantage.
Consumers are increasingly blending holiday shopping across online and offline channels
While 2020 saw consumers largely choose e-commerce for safety reasons, 2021 will see a drop in online-first shopping and an increase in those mixing online and offline to check off their holiday shopping lists, particularly among Gen X and Gen Z consumers. Retailers hoping to capture the loyalty of new and new-to-channel customers need to support these blended shopping styles. For example, keeping online product availability indicators up to date and highly visible is critical for assisting both at-home shoppers and those planning a trip to the store.
Consumer Shopping Increasingly Mixes Online and Offline Channels
Consumer comfort with in-store shopping gradually grows
Consumers are slowly becoming more comfortable shopping in stores after a plateau created by the delta variant. As holiday shopping picks up and delays and inventory issues persist, it’s likely that more consumers will head to stores, where inventory is visible and fulfillment just means carrying bags home. Factors such as booster shots and vaccine availability for kids will likely drive in-store comfort higher, and retailers should feel more confident about encouraging customers to spend time in stores with holiday-themed experiences.
Comfort With In-Person Shopping Inches Upward After Delta-Driven Plateau
To earn shopper loyalty, retailers must deliver on consumer expectations
Consumers who shop online are largely doing so for convenience, but those coming to stores also want the opportunity to leisurely browse — an element that’s hard to replicate online despite retailers’ best digital efforts. Gen Z and millennial consumers are more likely to see stores as a convenient channel, and are substantially more likely to leverage click-and-collect fulfillment. Supporting a quality in-store experience amid staffing constraints while managing both BOPIS fulfillment and in-person shopping support is a tall order, customer loyalty is at stake. Retailers will need to maintain experience quality even as they manage consumers’ expectations amid supply chain and labor challenges.
In-Store Browsing Is Back
Claire Tassin is the lead retail & e-commerce analyst on the Industry Intelligence team, where she conducts research, authors analyst notes and advises leaders in the retail & e-commerce industry on how to apply insights to make better business decisions. Before joining Morning Consult, Claire was an analyst at Gartner, where she conducted research on shifting consumer behaviors and expectations, as well as trends and technology relevant to marketing leaders in the retail sector. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. For speaking opportunities and booking requests, please email [email protected].