Brick-and-mortar retail stores represent the basic way American consumers shop for food, goods, products and electronics. Some store owners get caught up in one retail myth after another based on trends and attitudes of millions of shoppers who have a lot of clout in the industry.
Small Business Trends digests statistics from InReality's study regarding the "Reality of Retail Report" published in May 2015. The report attempts to separate the retail myth from retail reality in the contemporary environment of sales. Read the top five takeaways from the climate of consumer spending and shopping habits to gain a better understanding of retail sales.
Perhaps the most prevalent retail myth is that consumers do most of their shopping online; many consumers have gotten used to finding items online and having them shipped to a house or to a store's location. However, 94 percent of retail purchases occur in brick-and-mortar stores.
Several national chains have moved to the fulfillment center model that allows shoppers to peruse items at a nearby warehouse to be delivered to a storefront the next day. Online promotions, bulk orders and wider selections keep retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy competitive with juggernauts Amazon and Overstock.
Another retail myth says that consumers turn to the Internet for the bulk of their research. The retail reality is that a full 53 percent of shoppers do most of their browsing in the store. The youngest and oldest shoppers have more time on their hands because they do not have pressing commitments such as young children or full-time jobs. Everyone else does more online research due to time constraints.
One myth is that shoppers use smartphones to find cheaper items elsewhere, which means they purchase items from the competition. However, many consumers have shopping lists on those phones, plus Wal-Mart price matches from online stores such as Amazon. So, just because someone finds a cheaper product somewhere else, that does not mean that a consumer always goes somewhere else to make the purchase.
One retail myth talks about how traditional marketing and promotions are gone. However, as many as 81 percent of shoppers like coupons, discounts and promotions. Up to 56 percent of respondents feel packaging is important, and 53 percent cite product demonstrations as a viable way to decide whether to purchase a product.
A final myth is that salespeople make or break a sale. Yet, only 12 percent of shoppers believe the salesperson is the deciding factor in a sale. Many people already know about the product due to online research, so salespeople have turned into consultants who have information not found anywhere else in the marketing literature.
The overall theme of retail myth versus retail fact indicates that online shopping is not more important than shopping in person. Consumers with more time, and perhaps more money, actually enjoy the brick-and-mortar experience, so store owners should not neglect the basic tenets of traditional shopping.
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