The In-store Experience: What’s Lost When Shopping Online?

In recent years we’ve heard much about the term ‘experiential retail’ as an essential component of bricks & mortar retailing, by giving shoppers a reason to visit a physical store. It’s true that not all aspects of the in-store experience can be replicated online. The coronavirus pandemic however has made many shoppers reluctant – or unable – to visit grocery stores and many convenience shop owners have reacted to this by venturing into delivery services.

When we asked consumers why they haven’t tried to order a delivery from a convenience store, the top highest reason (along with delivery charges), was because they prefer to browse in store (27%). Similarly, when we ask consumers why they wouldn’t consider ordering online in the future, the top reason is preference for browsing in the store (28%) – 12ppts higher than consumers who say that delivery charges would be a barrier. Clearly, shoppers value physical browsing and we know from our Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) how valuable friendly and helpful staff are as a driver to store, rated 9.1 out of 10 for importance, higher than any other factor.

Therefore, trying to recreate in-store browsing and opportunities for impulsive purchasing online will be important to boost the appeal of online services for shoppers. Of course, retailers benefit too, by increasing average order size through compelling promotions and bundle deals. C-store delivery app Snappy Shopper claims to have driven incremental sales in excess of £10,000 per week for its top stores during lockdown. Retailers who sign up to use the app can target customers with special offers via push notifications, which can help create a personalised shopping experience and generate loyalty.

Of course, in the same way as space planning is essential to maximise the browsing experience in store, websites should be carefully planned so that consumers can enjoy a frictionless shopping experience. Ideally the website or app should be regularly updated and refreshed with all the latest deals, enabling the retailer to connect with the technology-driven and omnichannel shopper, whilst still driving them towards the unique features that can only be experienced in store.


Insight reports featured in this article

UK Recovery Report 2020

Business implications for grocery and hospitality market stakeholders


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