Consumers not only want to shop online, they want the dress, shoes or Monopoly game that they order from their computer screens to arrive quickly — often on the same day. More of them are researching laptops, refrigerators and microwave ovens online before making purchases. And when consumers do shop in traditional brick-and-mortar stores? More of them want the option to pay from their own mobile phones instead of waiting in line at a traditional check-out counter.
Retailers are aware of these changes. It’s why they’re constantly adapting their distribution routes, store locations and sizes and checkout procedures.
Those are the key findings from a recent Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates survey run by Harris Polls and released in late September. The poll provides a snapshot of how consumers’ shopping habits have changed and how Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers prefer to shop online and in traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
Fred Schmidt, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, told Midwest Real Estate News that retailers today need to take an omni-channel approach to reaching the minds — and wallets — of shoppers.
Retailers who go the omni-channel route offer consumers a host of shopping options: They provide shopping apps that consumers can log onto from their mobile phones, e-commerce Web sites from which consumers can order products, traditional brick-and-mortar stores, mobile pop-up stores that might disappear after two months and even old-fashioned telemarketing.
“If my daughter wants to buy a pair of pants at a women’s apparel store, if they don’t have them in supply they will find that product and deliver it to her within 24 hours,” Schmidt said. “That changes the whole merchandising mix.”
The key for success today? Retailers need to be able to sell their products in a variety of ways to meet the shopping preferences of consumers of all ages. And then they need to be able to deliver those products to shoppers as quickly as possible.
That’s why some retailers are choosing to increase the number of locations they operate. They want to be closer to their consumers. But these same retailers are opening smaller versions of their traditional stores. Walmart has adopted this approach in many markets.
Changing shopping habits are also forcing retailers to update the locations of their warehouses. Again, speed is the key here. Retailers need enough warehouses located close to their consumers so that they can offer 24-hour or same-day delivery.
Same-day delivery has become especially important. According to the Coldwell Banker survey, 50 percent of U.S. adults are more likely to make a purchase online if the Web site offers a same-day delivery option. The survey found that 40 percent of adults now expect this option.
The numbers are even stronger for Millennials. According to Coldwell Banker’s survey, 64 percent of Millennials are more likely to make a purchase online if there is a same-day delivery option. For Gen Xers, this number falls to 56 percent. For Baby Boomers, it drops to 40 percent.
The survey found, too, that 63 percent of parents are more likely to make a purchase when same-day delivery is offered. Only 46 percent of non-parents are more likely to make purchases when given the option.
This doesn’t mean that traditional shopping is dead. The survey found that 69 percent of U.S. adults still prefer to make their purchases in a store. But if consumers don’t find what they’re looking for in these stores? They’re more likely to order their products for delivery. And when they do, they are looking for quick delivery.
It’s why traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are increasingly offering same-day delivery options, opening warehouse space immediately outside large urban areas.
While the mobile wallet still remains largely a novelty, the Coldwell Banker survey shows that a growing number of consumers like the idea of checking out with their phones or mobile devices instead of at traditional check-out counters.
According to the survey, 33 percent of Millennials said that making purchases with technology such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Visa PayWave is important to them. Just 21 percent of the total survey population said this same thing. The survey found that 33 percent of parents compared to just 17 percent of non-parents said that the ability to make purchases with a mobile wallet program is important.
This might lead retailers to cut down on the number of or even eliminate their cash registers as consumers make their purchases immediately through mobile wallet apps.
“We don’t know yet how mobile wallets will change the way stores look,” Schmidt said. “But we do know that the trends are shifting, that this technology will only become more important. Will we get to the point where more retailers don’t have the check-out counter that you traditionally see at store? Consumers are growing more accepting of that. What does that mean in terms of configuring stores? What does it mean in terms of security? We don’t know that yet.”