February 1, 2017, 12:02 PM

Eight out of 10 consumers demand online reporting of store inventory

A new study reveals that 80% of consumers are less inclined to visit a store when the website does not provide current product availability—up from 56% last year.

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Retailers that sell in stores and online are getting the picture that providing consumers with a convenient shopping experience across all channels is key. Most like Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide; Target Corp. (No. 22); and The Home Depot Inc. (No. 7) are well underway with strategies that link their stores with the web. For example, they allow online consumers to see what products are in stock at their local store, enable the store pickup of online orders or fulfill online orders from store inventory.

But a new study from e-commerce platform provider Kibo Software Inc. shows just how important these efforts are, as suddenly the vast majority of online shoppers say they’re less likely to go into a store if they’re unable to view available inventory levels online in advance. Eight in 10 consumers say as much, a big jump from last year when only 56% said the same.

The study, which includes results from a January 2017 survey of 2,994 consumers in the U.S. and United Kingdom, also finds that 81% of consumers say that in the past six months they had looked up inventory on a retailer’s website before visiting a store, and 39% of consumers expect to see store inventory online.

They want more options when it comes to delivery and pickup of their orders, too, the study finds. In fact, 66% of consumers say that providing multiple fulfillment options influences their willingness to complete their purchase. And almost half of consumers surveyed say they are less likely to buy from a site that doesn’t offer in-store pickup.

Consumers typically opt for store pickup of online orders to save on shipping fees, as well as for immediacy and convenience. 

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