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Shoppers’ In-Store and Online Expectations for 2019

Any new year signifies a time for change. This year is no different. To learn more about the changes consumers are looking for in the coming year, Wiser has surveyed over 2,400 of our mobile app users about their 2019 shopping preferences. Their responses could help you improve sales and meet more consumer expectations in this digital age.

Both in-store and online retail is constantly changing as new trends and technologies are introduced to the market. It can be difficult to keep up with these trends and customer demands. Take a look at what customers are expecting from brands this year.

In-Store Preferences

In store shopping is still very prevalent, even with the increasing availability of online retailers. 52 percent of survey participants are more likely to make a purchase in-store in 2019 while 48 percent are more likely to make a purchase online. According to the survey results, their top motivation for in-store shopping is: product availability (64 percent), store location (56 percent), to try on or test items (54 percent), instant gratification with purchases (51 percent), no shipping costs (49 percent), the in-store experience (39 percent), and easier return methods (37 percent). 

With this in mind, it’s also important to note that 77 percent of survey participants often go to the sale section of a store first. A common theme that can be seen in the 2019 retail landscape is a growing desire for sales, discounts, and highly competitive pricing among brands. Most consumers have even begun comparing the prices of items before making a purchase in order to find the best possible deal, both in-store and online.

77% of respondents go to the sale section of a store first.

Overall, in-store preferences have shifted toward an experience and discount-based method. Offering unique and helpful experiences, like play areas for children, free snacks, test products, and more can be a big draw for customers. Based on a scale of much more likely to much more unlikely, 29 percent of survey participants were much more likely to shop in-store than online if a unique experience is offered and 33 percent are more likely. Less than 3 percent are either more unlikely or much more unlikely to go to a store offering these experiences.

Online Preferences

Much like in-store preferences, online preferences have also begun to shift. The top motivating factors for survey participants to shop online are: convenience (74 percent), better prices (60 percent), the ability to shop 24/7 (58 percent), free shipping offers (57 percent), comparison shopping (50 percent), more product options (48 percent), and avoiding crowds (46 percent).

Again, the emphasis is still on finding discounts, sales, and the best available prices for consumers in the online retail world. Comparison shopping is a very popular trend that only appears to be growing. Eighty-six percent of participants plan on searching multiple websites before making any online purchases this year, while only 14 percent do not.  

In-store shopping still has a huge presence in the retail landscape, but a large number of people asked that more stores offer the ability to order online and pick up in store. Combining the convenience of online shopping with the experience of in-store shopping will be a big pull for consumers in the coming year. The omnichannel experience could be the key to 2019 retail success.

Person working on laptop while second person points at screen.

2019 Shopping Trends

A big trend seen among all age ranges (18-65-plus) is the growing use of mobile apps for shopping and making purchases. Eighty-seven percent of our survey participants plan on using a mobile app to shop in 2019. In addition, 31 percent of survey participants are more likely to shop a specific brand or retailer if they have a mobile app and 16 percent are much more likely to do so.

Contrary to this, 51 percent of survey participants said that they’re neither more nor less likely to shop at a brand or retailer based on if they have a mobile app or not. Less than 2 percent of all participants were either less likely or much less likely to shop anywhere based on the availability of a mobile app. With this in mind, it’s safe to say that having a mobile app for your brand in 2019 can only benefit you and your customers.

87% of respondents plan to use a mobile app to shop in 2019.

A trend that has grown exponentially over the past few years has been the introduction of social media influencers as tools in advertising and marketing. Interestingly enough, 61 percent of survey participants are neither more nor less likely to purchase a product based on a recommendation from a popular “influencer,” while 21 percent are still more likely to make purchases based on their recommendations. You may want to proceed with caution with this form of marketing in the future because it may not be as effective as it once was.  

Lastly, in 2019, there is a desire among consumers for an omnichannel experience from brands and retailers. Consumers are looking for the best of both worlds. Providing an omnichannel experience that includes a physical store, website, and even a mobile app, if possible, will give you a leg up on the competition. Twenty-four percent of consumers believe that it is very important to have both a physical store and website and 35 percent believe that it’s important.

What Would Custumers Like to See?

The most important question we asked our survey participants was: “What would you like to see from stores and brands in 2019 to improve your shopping experiences?” The answers to this question could give you the key to understanding consumers’ needs in 2019. Some of the most common answers to this question were:

  1. Customer loyalty discounts and increased sales.
  2. Lower and more competitive prices.
  3. More product variety.
  4. More size variety including larger and smaller sizes.
  5. Friendlier and effective customer service from customer service representative and in-store sales associates.  
  6. Creating better quality products while maintaining a reasonable price.
  7. Lower shipping costs to help increase and help motivate online purchases.
  8. More effective size charts and visuals of products on models of all shapes and sizes.
  9. Faster and more efficient check out and return processes.
  10. Store layout maps and accurate stock/inventory counts for products.

The biggest theme among all of these results was a desire for better quality (service and products), and competitive pricing. Combining these two themes will give you a leg up in the current retail landscape among consumers.

Crowd at a coffee shop.

Closing Thoughts

Retail is a trend that will never fade, and it will only evolve with the environment around it. In fact, 73 percent of survey participants plan on shopping in stores at least one per week and 44 percent plan on shopping online at least once per week. While we cannot predict exactly how often consumers will shop this year, it is clear that there is a strong demand for retail year in and year out.

To continue to cultivate and grow this trend, retailers and brands need to understand what the consumer wants and act upon it. Not all of their needs can be met in a calendar year, but small actions can be taken to move closer to their ideals while maintaining your business functionality. At the end of the day, finding an equilibrium between consumer wants and business needs will place you at the top of the retail landscape.

Carissa Loria

Carissa is the Community Manager at Wiser, the leading provider of actionable data for better decisions. She holds a BS in Marketing from the University of Rhode Island.

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