Brands are failing to replicate in-store experiences online

Nearly a quarter of consumers believe online stores don’t do enough to engage with them

Brands are jeopardising customer loyalty by failing to replicate in-store experiences online, according to new research by commerce service PFS.

As detailed in a report titled Overcoming the Physical Disconnect: How Retailers Can Maintain Customer Loyalty in an Omnichannel World, nearly a quarter of consumers (23%) agree that online stores either don’t do enough to engage with them, or seem to only want their money without caring about their satisfaction.

In addition, 35% of the 2,000 UK consumers surveyed admitted to having had such an unsatisfactory shopping experience with a previously trusted brand in the past year, that they now look elsewhere.

Problems encountered included slow delivery (reported by 18% of respondents), lack of available stock (17%) and a difficult returns process (14%).

A significant 80% of respondents confirmed that they miss at least one aspect of the traditional shopping experience when perusing online.

The most missed experiences of shopping in-store were the ability to physically touch products (43%) and to test items for suitable aspects (41%).

According to PFS, when it comes to improving the online experience, 37% of consumers said they’d prefer to choose how their product is packaged, while 64% would be more loyal to brands providing them with delivery timeframe options.

Meanwhile, sustainability could be a deciding factor, as 52% of those surveyed would prefer to shop with companies that could help them minimise their carbon footprint, while 49% would prefer to shop with a brand that provides packaging that can be repurposed and 70% generally expected retailers to minimise packaging.

“Whilst the flagship store has moved online, this does not spell the end for the high street,” said Christophe Pecoraro, Managing Director of PFS Europe.

“What we’re more likely to see is a challenge to the physical stores’ core functions. What our data tells us is that we are heading towards an omnichannel future based around in-store experientialism, in support of online points of sale.

“This will see a demand for offerings such as buy online, pick-up in-store models (BOPIS) or buy online, ship from store, to bridge the gap between the two channels.

“Omnichannel optimisation is how retailers should be looking to establish loyalty in the new world. By converting physical stores into browsing locations, to try, to test, and ‘to experience’, they’re more likely to meet future demands built around a hybrid offering.

“Underpinning and critical to the success of this transition will be an effective fulfilment strategy and intuitive distribution network that can flexibly support this future of retail.”

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