New Deloitte Studies Find Retailers Innovating and Competing to Give Consumers More Choices Than Ever Before

BY Heather Greenfield
January 31, 2022

Washington – New survey research by Deloitte on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and consumers finds that competition in retail is benefiting consumers with more choice, competitive pricing and constant innovation. The studies, “Retail Today” and “Consumer Preferences Embrace a Mix of Physical and Digital,” look at how consumer preferences for price, convenience, and product selection drive choices between online and offline channels at each step in the shopping journey, and how intense competition in retail is leading retailers of all sizes to offer consumers more choices to research products, compare prices, and fulfill their purchases. One trend highlighted by the studies is that consumers have embraced buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup fulfillment, further adding value to retailers with physical stores.

Key takeaways from the “Consumer Preferences Embrace a Mix of Physical and Digital” study include:

  • 72% of consumers reported shopping more than one retailer on a recent shopping trip: 42% shopped two retailers and 30% shopped three or more retailers 
  • Two-thirds of shoppers used a digital device while in a retail store to compare prices and products online and in-store simultaneously
  • 55% of respondents who started their most recent shopping journey online made their purchase in-store
  • 44% of consumers preferred having multiple fulfillment options when purchasing online, rather than just defaulting to home delivery
  • 46% of consumers will pay more to pick up an item in-store 5 minutes from home rather than wait for two-day delivery 
  • 78% of predominantly online shoppers compare prices amongst multiple retailers vs 66% of predominantly in-store shoppers 
  • 55% of shoppers who routinely purchase a specific product category online switch to in-store for new occasion purchases, and 33% of shoppers who routinely purchase a specific product category in-store switch to online for new occasion purchases

Key takeaways from the “Retail Today” study include:

  • 27% of online sales were fulfilled at the physical store in 2021, up from 21.7% in 2020, demonstrating the importance of physical retail
  • SMBs are taking advantage of the omnichannel fulfillment option and leveraging their physical stores: 61% offer buy online, pick up in-store, and 50% offer buy online, same-day curbside pickup
  • 99% of SMB retailers use at least one digital tool or marketplace, including retailers who only sell via physical stores. Digital tools have lowered barriers to entry, allowing SMBs to reach consumers far beyond their physical location or hometown
  • Among the SMB retailers who are currently selling online, they’re using a variety of digital touchpoints; 70% are using more than one: 39% are using two and 31% use three or more

The rapid growth of omnichannel retail has allowed both SMBs and large national retailers to find synergies between their physical and digital channels, adding further value to physical stores. The survey finds that consumers are seamlessly using both digital and in-person retail options, more often than not within the same journey, to find the products they want, at the best price, and with a fulfillment method most convenient to them. The research supports the idea that consumers don’t think of shopping in segmented terms of online and offline.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) commissioned the study to gain a better understanding of the current retail landscape from both a consumer and small business perspective. The following can be attributed to CCIA Director of Research and Economics Trevor Wagener:

“This latest research demonstrates that intense competition in modern retail is benefiting consumers with more choices, competitive prices, and broad product selection. The current retail landscape allows SMBs to integrate online and offline channels, lowering barriers to entry, providing efficiency and success. The research shows that consumers should not be viewed as purely online or offline shoppers but rather a mix of both, as they are often using both channels throughout their shopping journey. Retailers with digital and physical offerings are reaping rewards from the growing trend of curbside pickup and buy online and pick up in store, known as omnichannel fulfillment.  Retailers leveraging their physical stores to support online sales demonstrates the enduring value of physical stores in retail today and in the future.”

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