During the 2006 holiday shopping season many US consumers walked out of stores without buying what they wanted, with many giving thought-provoking reasons for their abandonment of the store, according to survey by Deloitte & Touche.
The survey found that consumers are generally becoming more surgical in their approach to shopping, and are increasingly using online shopping and pre-shopping techniques. In the survey, many said they were unable to buy (or they chose not to buy) a product because of poor customer service, a confusing store layout, or because the item they wanted was simply out of stock.
The top reasons cited by consumers for walking out of a store without making their intended purchase were as follows:
- 64% said the item or size they were looking for was out of stock;
- 57% said the line at the register was too long;
- 52% said a sales associate was not readily available to help them;
- 32% said a sales associate could not answer the question they asked.
"Retailers have a considerable opportunity to improve sales and earnings by converting shoppers into buyers," said Pat Conroy, a vice chairman of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP and national managing principal of its Consumer Business industry practice. "Better managing inventory, ensuring that store staffing matches shopper traffic, and improving selling behaviours are just some of the ways that retailers can enhance customer conversion. These levers are all within retailers' control and, importantly, they help create long-term loyalty among shoppers, which is essential for a retailer's survival in today's competitive environment."
Streamlined, intuitive store navigation also improves conversion. In the survey, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents said they walked out of a store without buying because the store layout was too confusing.
"Shoppers can't buy it if they can't find it," added Conroy. "Improved store navigation and merchandise organisation can increase both customer conversion and the total dollars spent."
The power of advertising?
The survey showed that two-thirds (66%) of store visits this holiday season were not influenced by marketing and advertising. Most consumers said that they shopped in specific stores because they were familiar with the store or they were passing by, not because of advertisements, sale notices, email reminders, or other advertising or marketing.
Apparently, consumers visit stores because of brand recognition and past in-store experiences. Retailers that consistently deliver successful customer experiences and fulfil their brand promises create strong retail brands and loyal customer bases.
Some two in three consumers surveyed (63%) did an online search for product or store information before visiting a store. Almost half of consumers (48%) read online consumer-written product reviews, at either a retailer site or a non-affiliated site (like a magazine website or social website) to help decide whether or not to buy a product, or which product to buy. Almost all (90%) of these said that the reviews were helpful in making a purchase decision.
It is clear then that retailers that provide rich multi-channel resources are more likely to attract customers and win their loyalty. In addition, multi-channel retailers may prove to have a distinct competitive advantage over online-only retailers, since the multi-channel brand will have the opportunity to develop more frequent customer contacts.