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Digital Transformations Create Hybrid Shoppers

May 16, 2022

Results of a consumer insights study explored omnichannel trends that are driving shopping behaviors and the impact shipping delays and inflation are having on consumers’ brand experience. The research is based on responses of 1,000 adults across the United States.

Key insights from Radial’s new survey include:

Digital reigns supreme, but the physical store plays a key role in omnichannel engagement

The past two years have accelerated retail digital transformation and heightened the need for brands to have an online presence and offer omnichannel services that provide a seamless journey for their customers. The transformation has molded a hybrid consumer who is now open to beginning their shopping journey online and ending in-store. Survey data indicates that over half (54%) of consumers are shopping more online than in 2020, with notably one-third of respondents stating that they shop online a few times a week. At the same time, consumers are warming up to in-store shopping; 63% of consumers are willing to shop in-store without fear of exposure to COVID-19.

The brands that adopted or continued to rely on omnichannel solutions during the pandemic see that these solutions continue to play a central role in fulfillment and consumers’ shopping journeys. Followed by online shopping, 24% of survey respondents classified curbside pickup as their top two shopping service and 36% of consumers ranked BOPIS as third. These findings correlate with Radial’s 2021 holiday survey and suggest that BOPIS and curbside pickup will forever be integral channels of the shopping experience.

“Ecommerce and omnichannel fulfillment services have become part of retail’s DNA, and require continued investment from retailers and brands,” said Laura Ritchey, Executive Vice President, and COO of Radial. “The implementation of digital capabilities does not stop when the pandemic ends – ecommerce is constantly evolving along with consumers’ preferences and brands need to follow suit. Services like buy online, pick up in store and curbside pickup have become channels for consumers to get products more conveniently and it created an opportunity for retailers to diversify the fulfillment processes and scale operations.”

Shipping delays and inflation are impacting brand experience and purchasing decisions

Consumers are more accustomed to extended delivery times amid inventory shortages. Where many were used to and expected 1–2-day shipping, 50% of Americans surveyed now consider 3-4 days a reasonable timeframe to expect online orders to be delivered. The data also shows that free shipping is the most important consideration and consumers would sacrifice the speed of delivery for it. Only 23% of respondents said they would forego free shipping and pay for next-day shipping to receive items or products faster. Nevertheless, a customer’s loyalty to purchasing an item solely from their preferred retailer or brand has been tested, as longer delivery timelines or out-of-stock messages have led almost 60% of shoppers surveyed to seek products from other brands or retailers to receive them faster.

With inflation at the highest level in decades, consumers have become cautious. Survey findings highlight that 40% of consumers have stopped purchasing items that are not necessities. More than one-third (34%) have delayed less-important purchases, and 26% noted they had bundled purchases for online orders to lower fees or shipping costs. While inflation is impacting spend in some areas, despite rising prices, health and beauty, and food and beverage remain essential expenses for consumers.

“Supply chain and inventory visibility hold the power to shape customer loyalty and expectations, and amid economic volatility, loyalty is supreme, especially as peak season nears,” said Ritchey. “Consumers have felt the impacts from the supply chain constraints and even eased their expectations on fast shipping. Nevertheless, customer demand continues to grow, and it is paramount that brands prioritize diversifying and upgrading their supply chains to continue to acquire and retain consumers.”

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