3 reasons why we buy in-store

Reading time: 6 minutes

For a certain reason, there is a rich field of psychological research on consumer behavior and how or why people buy goods and services. Although e-commerce has grown since the start of the pandemic and people might buy mostly daily essentials during this time, the money in industrial countries is usually spent rather on wants than on needs.  
Therefore, the decisions for a purchase are not so much rational, but more emotional and influenced by many factors such as the own personality, triggers like social media or the social status or simply entertainment. 
“People do not buy goods & services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.” Seth Godin. 
Where do people find these relations, stories and the magic? It is in-store where interaction on a very personal level finds place which nobody can find online. The prophecy of a retail apocalypse will never come true even with Covid-19 for three simple reasons. 

1. Desire for experience

Getting up from the couch for just buying the twentieth black shirt is hard when there is no motivation. Online stores might have their advantages (like staying on the couch for that black shirt), but they are still unable to offer a complete shopping experience. You cannot feel the fabrics, you cannot try different sizes at the moment you see it, you cannot have a nice chat with your friend accompanying you and you cannot spend a Saturday with your family on a shopping trip with lunch afterwards – a physical store still provides key services a webshop cannot possibly offer. 
Evidently customers need the right motivation to get to a physical store, so turn your point-of-sale into a point of experience and align it with your customer’s expectations. Today’s customer is shaped by a digital world and mindset. The users journey already developed to so called showrooming and webrooming. Showrooming on one hand is using the physical store for information gathering and experiencing to buy later online. Webrooming is the exact opposite. Customers inform themselves about products, read reviews, check alternatives and then go to make a final decision and buy in-store eventually. Still, the in-store purchase beats the online one: about 69% of consumers research online before buying in-store while only 46% showroom. Use this trend of webrooming to grab your customers attention before they enter the store. The classical brick-and-mortar does not necessarily need an online shop. Unavoidable though is a presence online on digital touchpoints like local maps or social media. Your customers can engage and interact with you, your shop and your products in a convenient way. Online reviews will boost your visibility, expanded services highlight you compared to your competitors. 
Stay in touch with your customers before they enter and after they have left the store and design an immersive, seamless experience for them. Save the limited time of your customer with services like contactless payments, click-and-collect or home-shipments while they still have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with your experienced sales team.  
Happiness does not come only from the objects we buy, but more from the association of the emotions during that purchase. Meet the complex expectations of your customer by evoking satisfying motivations to visit your store.

2. Expert consultation

Thanks to countless opportunities to research online, customers are already well informed about the products they want to buy. At some point they still might get overwhelmed and need help for a final decision. From a purely professional point of view regarding the products only, some online shops have experts the customers can communicate with. Also, the navigation was simplified in most of the online shops as much as possible. But how do they know particular preferences, the products you bought in the past or that you will soon need a new dress for your daughter’s graduation? How do you choose where to navigate, when you don’t know the name of the product or the category? Some purchases simply have to take place in person and the boom in e-commerce revealed everything which is not possible with technology only: communicating on a human level and generating communities and relationships as well as loyalty. 
This personal attention and exchange simply cannot be replicated from physical stores to online shops. No online customer service can compete with a trustworthy experienced human being which is connected and emotionally engaged and built up long-termed relations with his or her customers. It starts with the physical guidance to the location of a product, to showing new products or add-ons without endless scrolling and ends with the simple fact that displayed products are highly more likely to be sold.  
But with tech-savvy customers even a wholeheartedly commitment to the job as a classical sales associate is not enough anymore. The rise of online shopping and the universal availability of information for everyone leads to a change in expectations towards a retail sales associate to a much higher degree. They need tools to be productive and meet the high expectations of your customers. As the major brand ambassadors for you and your shop also your teammates need the right tools to practice sales one step ahead.  
Support your sales associate of today as future influencer of tomorrow with digital tools to create personalized offers, show alternatives and check the stock during the customer consultation. Allow your team to look up product information, inventory or simply ship products from another store home for the customer. Let your sales team easily reserve the products chosen during a video shopping session with your customer for store pickup on the next day, proceed the payment or organize a home shipment. Generate additional sales using digital tools combined with the charming expert guidance in person.

3. Engagement with the product

Despite 360° views or videos for a product presentation there is no possibility for online stores to touch all senses of the customer. Haptics, smell and taste are still not realizable.  
Besides this emotional factor which is crucial for a purchase decision are some practical things you should keep in mind: You don’t know the fit of the black shirt which you consider, although it is recommended to buy one size smaller. Would you really prefer to order the identical one in 2 sizes or maybe 3, deposit your credit card and then return later the ones which don’t suit you? In a physical shop you just ask the sales clerk for your size or have the possibility to try another one in the changing room right there. The immediate availability is an important factor due to limited patience and time. To rely on an overnight delivery plus the uncertainty of the suitability of the product by online purchases are in the favor of classical retail. Even when the customer is first searching online for urgent purchases, the instant access and availability together with the right assistance and seamless experience leads to sales und further brand and shop loyalty. Beside the possibility to take the favorite product home on the same day, your customer can also compare in-store alternatives in person assisted by your sales associate and digital tools. There are neither shipment nor return costs. Your customer doesn’t have to be at home to receive the delivery, pick it up by the neighbor or return half of the order. Physical retail provides immediacy for requests, returns and the purchase itself.  

The digitalization has changed how people shop and do significantly more research online than ever –  there are still benefits in physical retail which are undeniable. Retail is not dead – it is reinvented.  
Improve your customers experience with an omnichannel presence across all possible touchpoints. Digitize your products and merge online services with the fun of a social events which in-store shopping can be. Connect online convenience with offline enjoyment and let your customers explore the products in the secure surroundings of a familiar place. Increase the productivity of your sales team by handing them the right tool to focus entirely on your customer. Serve your customers in person with competitive services to ultimately intensify your customers satisfaction and promote trust and loyalty. 

The future of shopping is neither only offline nor online – it is an experience. The evolution of retail towards a sustainable, seamless and personalized shopping experience can be mastered easily with just one tool. 

Markus Demirci

Founder & CEO mPocket

Stay in touch during contactless times.