Omnichannel Retailing Rests On Brick and Mortar

According to the Omnichannel Shopping Preferences study—the latest addition to A.T. Kearney’s ongoing study of the evolution of omnichannel commerce—physical stores are clearly customers’ preferred shopping channel and a place where the most significant consumer and retailer value continues, and will continue, to be created.

Digital retailing is capturing headlines and inspiring spirited debate as retailers plan how best to invest for future success. But beyond the headlines, physical stores remain the foundation of retailing, evidenced by the fact that 90 percent of all retail sales are transacted in stores and 95 percent of all retail sales are captured by retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence.

It is important to acknowledge that shoppers actually find physical stores appealing—especially when we read all the hype about online and digital. Stores provide consumers with a sensory experience that allows them to touch and feel products, immerse in brand experiences, and engage with sales associates who provide tips and reaffirm shopper enthusiasm for their new purchases.

The store plays a crucial role in online purchases, as two-thirds of customers purchasing online use a physical store before or after the transaction. In these cases, the store makes a significant contribution to converting the sale, even though the transaction is eventually registered online. In other words, the source of value creation (brand building, product awareness) is distinct—or decoupled—from the place of value capture (sales transaction). This is particularly important for retailers, as they consider resource allocation decisions across channels to ensure that the true value the physical store creates is accounted for properly.

The future of retail is solidly anchored in the brick-and-mortar channel. With customer satisfaction at the core of retailing, successful retailers will do their part to provide consumers with the ability to shop when and where they want. And it’s been proven that having multiple channels is good for business.

The debate should not be a question of digital or physical. Successful retailers understand how each customer touch point adds value (as defined by the customer) and develop omnichannel strategies—with stores as the foundation—that maximize customer satisfaction and profitability.

About the study

The Omnichannel Consumer Preferences study is the newest in our series of breakthrough research in retail innovation. The report summarizes the findings of the study, input from a variety of retailers and property developers, and A.T. Kearney retail sector analysis. The independent survey of more than 2,500 consumers and dozens of retail executives was funded by, and completed in cooperation with, leading U.S. shopping mall real estate developers.

Click here for full report.

 By A.T. Kearney

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