April 25, 2014, 4:37 PM

Most online shoppers love stores, and here’s why

A new survey suggests that so-called ‘omnichannel’ shopping is the way of the world.

Lead Photo

We are all omnichannel now, or nearly all.

So suggests the results of a survey from consumer feedback analytical provider CFI Group and eBay Enterprise, the e-commerce technology and services division of eBay Inc. Their “Omni-Channel Insights” report says that 95% of consumers “frequently or occasionally shop” a retailer’s web site and store. And 82% of all consumers surveyed say they consider it “important” to be able to place an order from a retailer’s e-commerce site while inside that merchant’s store. That’s a lesson not lost on Internet Retailer Top 500 retail chain Gap Inc., which recently said it will give consumers the ability to order items online while inside stores.

“With consumers wanting more options when shopping, especially within the realm of cross-channel shopping, it is important for retailers to increase their customer service standards both online and in-store,” says Terry Redding, CFI Group’s vice president of marketing and product development. “Tactics such as staying consistent across channels with stock as well as coordinated cross-channel promotions will help consumers stay loyal to a brand, and stores will gain higher customer satisfaction rates.”

CFI based its eBay Enterprise-sponsored report on responses from more than 500 survey participants. Further information about the mechanics of the survey were not immediately available today.

Survey results also show that:

• 93% of respondents want the option to return items bought online to local stores.

• 78% consider it “important” that merchants enable in-store pickup of online orders. Retailers seem to be lagging behind consumer demand. According to brand new data from Internet Retailer’s 2014 Top 500 Guide, 51 retailers—about 30% of the retail chains—in the Top 500 allow customers buy online and pickup in store. The largest such retailer, as judged by annual revenue, is Apple Inc. (No. 2) with Staples Inc. (No. 3) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 4) also providing the service. In the Second 500 Guide, 38 merchants have the service. The largest such merchant is eCommerce Outdoors, No. 523. (More such data can be found on Top500Guide.com.)

• 56% of consumers will keep shopping with a particular retailer as long as that retailer offers the best price, whether inside stores or online.

• Such loyalty, however, can be tested by incompetent store employees: 75% of respondents report receiving “incorrect” product and promotional information from retail associates, no matter the channel. That could be a concern for executives at Sears Holdings Inc., which this week announced a loyalty-club program called “Get Advice” that enables consumers, either via their personal computers or mobile devices, to seek and gain answers from store associates about potential purchases and product details.

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