The physical store remains the centerpiece of the purchase journey, according to a study by PwC. The report, "Demystifying the Online Shopper," addresses myths about multichannel retailing and offers some ideas to help retailers keep up with their customers. Here's a recap:
- Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel. Social media isn't likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon. Currently, it's a driver for more shopping across all channels, not just online.
- Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future. For most companies, the physical store remains central. But companies do need to determine how to best drive purchase activity across all of their channels. There still is a place for the store to be a showroom — as a supplement for online pure players, rather than a new model for brick-and-mortar retailers.
- The tablet will overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device. Tablets and smartphones won't catch up any time soon as these devices are used at the end of the purchase journey, particularly in-store, while shopping.
- As the world gets smaller, global consumers are becoming more similar. There is a wide range of local differences in consumer behavior, and retailers still need to cater to local trends.
- China is the future model for online retail. China's multichannel and online model is unique to the culture. Also, shopping habits are dramatically different in China.
- Domestic retailers will always enjoy a 'home field' advantage over global retailers. Foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers' lists of favorite multichannel retailers.
- Global online pure players will always enjoy a scale advantage over domestic online pure players. Many domestic online pure players are holding their own as they have better access to local market knowledge.
- Retailers are inherently better positioned than brands, as they are closest to the customer. Consumers are shopping directly from manufacturers, and many no longer distinguish between retailers and their favorite brands.
- Online retail is cannibalizing sales in other channels. Consumers are actually spending more with their favorite multichannel retailers, not just shifting some purchases to a different channel.
- Low price is the main driver of customer spend at favorite retailers. Customers value quality, innovative brands over price.