Consumers prefer to combine digital and physical elements during buying: IBM study

Consumers prefer to combine digital and physical elements during their buying process said a study by IBM.

The study was released at NRF 2015 tech show in the U.S.

The IBM Institute for Business Value study that analyzed 4 years of survey data from over 110,000 consumers in 19 countries found that 43 percent of consumers prefer to shop online, while only 29 percent made their last purchase online.

In some product categories such as youth apparel or home décor, there is a nearly 20 point gap between the percentage of people that say they enjoy shopping online and the percentage of people who made their last purchase online. This signals that retailers have an opportunity to better meet consumer expectations online.

While more consumers are willing to share social, location, and mobile information with a trusted retailer compared to last year, the study shows that sharing could be much higher.

IBM study on online buying

42 percent of consumers see the potential benefit of sharing their location via GPS with retailers, but only 28 percent are willing to do so — even with a trusted retailer. Fifty-four percent of consumers see the benefit of sharing mobile for text with retailers, but 42 percent would share this information, said IBM.

Sixty percent consumers said it is important for them to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to the store. 46 percent consumers said it’s important that retail employees use mobile devices to fix an out of stock issue, up six points from last year.

Forty-eight percent of shoppers value initiating a personalized communication with a retailer when they are online. When in the store, 44 percent of shoppers want on-demand communication. Forty-one percent of consumers said it’s important that store associates offer personalized promotions based on their purchase history or preferences, compared to 36 percent last year.

Associates ranked last on the list of trusted resources consumers access for product knowledge — yet another sign that the role of the sales associate is changing.

The study signals that retailers should prioritize empowering their associates with tools to monitor inventory and offer promotions instead of focusing on general product information only.

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