The new role of brick-and-mortar in the digital retail

According to PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey (GCIS), for the fourth year in a row consumers have increased, not decreased, their shopping in physical stores. The survey involved
22,000 respondents in 27 countries, telling their new habits for shopping. Their answers underlined that mobile devices, especially smartphones, are increasingly used tools, but it has not replaced shops. Looking at PwC survey results, fifty-three percent named face-to-face interaction with knowledgeable, helpful salespeople as shopping experience that gives more satisfaction, a larger percentage than those who named personalized offers (40 percent) or in-store screens that display product lines (39 percent). In general, when it comes to deciding where to shop, the choice of whether the venue is on-line or “in real life” matters less than a long list of other factors, including privacy and personalization. Anyway, activities that have driven marketing strategies for decades, such as weekly grocery trips, spending a day at the shopping mall or “Black Friday are attracting fewer people every year. Strategies are changing and the consumer journey is becoming more and more personalized. People has different way to find information. “In this new world – PwC experts comment in the survey – every product and brand is always accessible, information is limitless, variety is infinite, and delivery is nearly instantaneous. It’s not yet clear which shopping habits will catch on most widely, but those that do will heavily influence which brands people will buy and which retail and consumer products companies will succeed.”
But what will the future of physical shops be, then?
Shoppers haven’t given up on stores. Dire headlines about widespread store closings — particularly in the U.S., which is plagued with overbuilt retail space — should not be misinterpreted as a death knell for brick-and-mortar. Forty-four percent of survey respondents said they shopped in stores daily or weekly (for items other than groceries), up from just 36 percent in 2014. Indeed, despite more than 8,000 store closings in 2017, U.S. in-store revenues far exceeded expectations, with healthy year-over-year increases. Some new e-commerce channels are, in fact, complementing their physical counterparts by integrating the analog and digital environments.

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