Deloitte: Digital Influences One Third of In-Store Purchases

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Who knew? Showrooming is the retailer's friend, says Deloitte.
Who knew? Showrooming is the retailer's friend, says Deloitte.

Retailers railing against shoppers' “showrooming” activities should actually be doing more to encourage digital interactions in their stores, says “The New Digital Divide,” a study released today by Deloitte Digital.

Far from dispatching sales to Amazon and other e-coms, mobile usage on the shopping floor can deliver retailers the keys to the kingdom, the consulting firm concluded after surveying more than 2,000 consumers. Digitally connected shoppers convert at a 40% higher rate than people not consulting devices, and 22% of them spend more as a result. Indeed, embracing digital strategies now can pay off big in the long run: More than 75% of consumers told Deloitte that social chatter about stores enhanced their brand loyalty.

The hard numbers: Digital interactions influenced $.36 of every dollar spent in retail stores, or approximately $1.1 trillion in 2013, and Deloitte forecasts mobile's influence to increase by almost 50% this year to spur $1.5 trillion in sales.

“Retailers that narrowly focus on digital commerce, rather than the full journey that leads to a purchase, often fail to recognize how their customers shop and make decisions in the store,” says Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte's chief retail innovation officer. “The result is a digital divide between what consumers do and what retailers deliver. This gap not only threatens overall revenue, but requires retailers to reset the way they measure and invest in digital efforts.”

The smartphone's rapid proliferation has proved a major boon to brick-and-mortar sales growth, maintains Deloitte. In just one year, from 2012 to 2013, the company estimates that the device's influence on in-store purchases tripled, from $159 billion in sales to $593 billion.

To take advantage of this phenomenon, Deloitte advises retail chains to create integrated digital strategies that address customer experience, merchandising, and vendor decisions among other considerations. “Retailers might regard online shopping cart abandonment as a failed conversion when, in reality, it may represent a customer who started online, but chose to purchase the items in the store,” says Deloitte Consulting LLP Director Jeff Simpson. “This impact is much higher when measured holistically across the organization and regardless of channels, rather than force-fitted to a single point of purchase.”

A big hurdle retailers must clear, says the study, is aligning their thinking with that of shoppers, who no longer view stores and e-com sites as disparate channels.

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