Consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with the in-store shopping experience that offers little of the convenience of online counterparts, with four in ten (40%) claiming shopping in-store is a chore and a third (32%) saying they would rather be at home washing the dishes. This is the finding of a report published today by Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, titled “Making the Digital Connection: Why Physical Retail Stores Need a Reboot.”

The study of 6,000 consumers and 500 retail executives from nine countries (United States, China, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden) highlights a growing divide between retailers and consumers on the importance of physical stores: while 81% of retail executives see the store as important, less than half of consumers (45%) agree.

Shoppers are frustrated by in-person retail experiences that have not only failed to keep pace with developments in online shopping but are also disconnected from online stores. Dissatisfaction is highest in Sweden and Spain (54% and 49% respectively say bricks-and-mortar shopping is a chore) and lowest in China and the U.S. (29% and 31% respectively).

‘Offline’ stores frustrate shoppers

More than half (54%) of the retail executives surveyed admit that they have been slow to digitize their physical stores and consumers’ in-store frustrations are rooted in not having access to features now commonplace on online stores:

– 71% find it difficult to compare products
– 66% are annoyed by long lines at checkout
– 65% complain that the promotions they receive in store aren’t relevant
– 65% simply can’t find the product that they want

Consumers are exploring new purchase paths

Low in-store satisfaction is one of two significant challenges faced by traditional retailers uncovered by the survey. Consumers are also exploring new retail models that reduce their reliance on traditional retailers. More than half are open to buying directly from manufacturers in the future (57%) or buying from technology players such as Google, Apple and Facebook (59%) if they partnered with local retailers for last-mile delivery. Overall, 71% of consumers would consider bypassing traditional retailers, but this attitude is most prevalent in China, where well over three quarters (87%) of respondents would consider alternatives.

Digital: A challenge for physical retailers

Retailers recognize the importance of in-store digitization – it’s a top management priority for the majority of retail executives (78%) – however they are limited by both existing technology investments and the capabilities of in-store staff. 40% of retail executives say that they are still implementing technology foundations, such as in-store Wi-Fi, while a similar number claim that store managers are not promoting in-store digital initiatives. More significantly, 43% say they are unable to measure the return on investment from in-store digital initiatives despite high usage. Overall, only 18% of retail executives were found to have implemented digital initiatives at scale and be generating significant benefits.

Redefining the role of the retail store

It’s not all doom and gloom for physical retailers. Consumers believe that stores still have a role in their lives – 70% still want to touch and feel products before they buy. However, they not only expect to see the same features that they find online implemented in-store, but also want more incentives:

– Physical stores need to offer online features: Three quarters of consumers (75%) want to check if stock is available before going instore, 73% of consumers expect same day delivery of products purchased in-store.
– Stores need to do more than sell and fulfil: 57% of consumers want retailers to offer more than simply selling the product and for them to provide social spaces, learning experiences and inspiration, such as cooking or DIY workshops.
– Rewarding store visits: Seven out of ten consumers (68%) expect loyalty points for spending time in store and repeat visits, while 61% want store memberships that offer lower prices.

Source: Capgemini