A significant number of consumers (44 percent) now research at least half of all of their purchases online, a trend that is fueled by convenient access to the information that drives purchase decisions. These findings underscore the relevance of the "showrooming" phenomenon in a price-driven, omnichannel shopping environment and draw attention to the need for customer-centric, channel-agnostic retail systems and services.
Consumers expect a robust commerce platform and high-touch store experience, as 81 percent say ease of research and comparison shopping is the number-one reason they shop online, while 67 percent say the main reason they step inside a store is to touch and feel products.
Data confirms that price management strategies are critical, as 80 percent of consumers say price is the most important element when they choose a product, and price-comparison has become a well-engrained behavior further fueled by mobile.
"Today's customers expect more than ever and take advantage of all available devices to problem solve, price shop and purchase," said Lauren Freedman, president, the e-tailing group. "Retailers must be ready, as control has clearly shifted to consumers, with comprehensive information, consistent cross-channel experiences and compelling experiences essential for survival in our connected world."
Laptop and desktop devices are still the dominant electronic product research and shopping vehicles (51 percent), followed by smartphones (32 percent). Consumers' choice of device fluctuates based on need, timing and location, though smartphone usage is on the rise.
Data shows that purchases still benefit from a trip to the local store and personnel remain key to sales and satisfaction, as 40 percent of consumers say a savvy store associate can impact their final product selection more than a website.
"For retailers to deliver the omnichannel experience customers are demanding, they must effectively manage operational and customer data across channels. Oracle helps connect cross-channel interactions and deliver actionable insight that enables employees to serve customers better," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail.