A recent Accenture study found that 89 percent of parents of kindergarten- to college-age children plan to visit stores to save on delivery charges, get their hands on products before purchasing and ask about price matching this back-to-school season. That is a staggering statistic (take that, Amazon!), which supports what I believe about the physical store – that it remains critical for a retailer’s omnichannel success. The survey also found that the stores that customers visit are largely determined by online searches (aka “webrooming”).
So, while there’s much buzz around showrooming and its negative impact on brick and mortar, it works both ways –online channels also drive traffic into physical stores. And, since the back-to-school shopping season is the second most important shopping period for retailers behind the holidays, these findings are a good reminder that customers are taking advantage of multiple channels, rather than only using one and abandoning others completely.
In discussing the same survey findings, Dave Richards, managing director of Accenture’s Global Retail practice, says: “The fact that the majority of parents we surveyed plan to participate in webrooming underscores the significance of having a consistent and convenient experience across all retail touchpoints.”
This point is important and one that I discuss regularly on this blog. Consumers are increasingly taking an omnichannel approach to shopping and will engage most with those brands that deliver a consistent experience, regardless of channel. With the back-to-school shopping season in full swing – one that NRF predicts will experience a five percent increase in sales over the 2013 season – Accenture’s survey findings serve as another reminder for retailers to integrate their efforts across all channels in order to deliver that consistent experience. After all, whether consumers are showrooming or webrooming, they’re still looking to make a purchase. Retailers that make it as easy, seamless and pleasant as possible will ultimately win out. And, with holidays not far behind back-to-school, cultivating customer loyalty now can pay off in spades in mere months.