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Seeing Digital and Brick-and-Mortar Stores as Complementary

In the early days of e-commerce, internet shopping was supposed to spell the demise of the physical store. Pure play online retailers would sweep all before them, rendering the retail store a historical curiosity. In fact, it hasn't quite worked out like that. Recent Accenture research confirms that more shoppers are planning to increase their purchases from physical stores this year than last. However, the positive news for brick-and-mortar needs to be tempered with the realization that what shoppers want from the in-store experience is changing fast, shaped by their digital experiences. Retailers who fail to understand those new needs and adapt accordingly will struggle.

Rather than thinking about the store and online as discrete entities, retailers need to bring the two worlds much closer together. Consumers are looking for experiences that bring the best from digital and physical. For example, more consumers today are ‘webrooming’ (browsing online before making an in-store purchase) than ‘showrooming’ (going to a store to make their selection and then searching online for the best price) across a variety of retail categories. They also increasingly expect their purchases to be delivered for free, with more than half (57 percent) saying that waiting for free delivery was the most important option. In addition, a higher proportion of shoppers year on year are using click-and-collect services, whereby they purchase an item online and then pick it up from the store.

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