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Why millennials visit a store but buy online

Eighty-six per cent of millennials said that they left a store without purchasing an item only to buy the product online as opposed to 56 per cent Gen X and 25 per cent boomers

Anwesha Madhukalya        Last Updated: February 21, 2020  | 10:59 IST
Why millennials visit a store but buy online
Shopping expectations have been shaped by e-commerce

From convenience to in-store technology, customers look for myriad aspects in their shopping experiences. However, the 2020 APAC Shopper Study conducted by US-based Zebra Technologies has found that most of the millennial respondents have left stores to buy the same product online. The study also found that shoppers also seek availability of in-store technology.

What shoppers want

Eighty-six per cent of millennials said that they left a store without purchasing an item only to buy the product online, as revealed by the study. The study also states that 56 per cent Gen X shoppers and only 25 per cent of boomers have left the store to buy the item online.

One of the main reasons behind leaving the shop to buy online is out-of-stock items. Pricing discrepancy, product choices, display and lack of discount are the other reasons behind leaving a shop without purchasing an item and buying it online. The study also mentioned that 56 per cent of shoppers across generations chose better pricing over better service. Forty-four per cent of shoppers said that they prefer better service.

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The study mentioned that shopping expectations have been shaped by e-commerce. For instance, shoppers want to find the items they want, pay the lowest price and grab the items quickly and easily. What they don't seem to care about is the distinction between a retailer's physical location and online presence.

Access to technology

When shopping offline, shoppers across generations expect shop employees or associates to have as much, if not more, knowledge and technology available to them. However, employees are not always equipped with the latest technology. Fifty-four per cent of shoppers said that they had better access to information than the employees at a shop.

"The ability of a store is only about selling you something but also to act like a fulfilment centre. This is something brick and mortar stores have to their advantage with multiple distribution centres. But if the inventory is not up to the mark then it is futile," says George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead, Healthcare and Retail, Zebra Technologies. He says that brick and mortar stores need to invest in technology that brings the customer back.

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Sixty-two per cent said that they had better experience when shop associates used the latest technology. Sixty-three per cent of shoppers also believe that associates with handheld computers and built-in scanners can elevate the shopping experience. While shoppers rely on technology, they still want human interaction, as mentioned in the study. Sixty-one per cent of shoppers and 73 per cent of shop employees believe that mobile technology improves in-store experience.    

Additionally, millennials prefer self-checkout or mobile-checkout and mobile-equipped associates, Gen X and boomers prefer face-to-face service but are also comfortable with self-checkout.

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Product returns

Another aspect of shopping changed drastically by the online experience is returns. Returns are estimated to cost retailers $642.6 billion annually, most of which is from e-commerce. Twenty per cent of products purchased online are returned while only 9 per cent of products picked from offline stores are returned. Eighty-one per cent of retail executives say that managing returns of online orders is a big challenge. Fifty-one per cent of retailers have even started planning an upgrade of their returns management technologies.

Shoppers are, additionally, looking for one basic aspect - convenience. "Retailers should prioritise expanded fulfillment capabilities, with flexible options like shipping to store or home," the study notes.

"Shopping experience, as it stands, should be a blend of the online and offline experience. When it is a bad purchase, you don't look if it was bought online or offline, you just look at the brand. Brick and mortar stores need to get the basic right, make sure they invest in technology, and give great customer experience," said Pepes.

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