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Seven in Ten Americans Want Retailers to Enhance the In-Store Shopping Experience, SapientNitro Survey Reveals

Even as retailers have expanded purchase options and welcomed digital shoppers into stores this holiday season, most Americans believe that retailers could do more to enhance the in-store shopping experience, according to a just-released national poll conducted by GfK Roper in conjunction with SapientNitro, part of Sapient (NASDAQ: SAPE).

Seven in ten (70%) Americans agree that “retailers could do more to enhance the in-store shopping experience.” Highly valued enticements include:

  • The ability to buy products in-store but have them shipped to home for free (79%)
  • Free Wi-Fi (63%)
  • Interactive displays or kiosks that provide additional information or recommendations about a product (57%)
  • Exclusive in-store mobile offers (56%).

Among smartphone users, a majority would also like:

  • To view store circulars/flyers on their phone (67%),
  • In-store navigation smartphone apps (59%), and
  • The option for mobile payment or to check out by scanning their mobile phone (59%).

“Many of our retail clients are redefining their in-store shopping experience to reach today’s connected consumer,” said Chris Davey, global head of commerce at SapientNitro. “The 2012 holiday shopping season marked a fundamental shift in which retailers not only recognized but accommodated digital shoppers in the in-store experience. From investing in GPS-enabled store maps or updating mobile shopping apps for smartphones and tablets, retailers placed big bets on today’s ‘always-on’ shopper and both parties won. Their efforts made holiday shopping easier but have raised consumer expectations for more.”

Many Turn to Showrooming, Blend Online/Offline Behaviors

While embracing digital in their lives, respondents want to preserve their family time too. The majority of Americans (62%) feel it is wrong that stores are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day just to get a jump on Black Friday sales.

The American tradition of holiday shopping is alive and well, but Americans are using brick and mortar locations in different ways. A majority of digital users (51%) report “showrooming,” that is using retail stores to browse products, all the while planning to buy a product later online.

Just this holiday season:

  • One third (33%) of digital users say they have first gone into a store just to look at an item, with the idea of buying it later online.
  • Four in 10 Americans, up from 33% last year, say they purchased a product in a physical retail store after researching the product online.
  • 27% say they purchased a product online after shopping for a similar item in a physical store.

The overall trend in online shopping continues to rise, with four in ten digital users (41%) saying that, compared to last year, they have shopped more online and less at physical retail stores this year. The biggest reason is the convenience of shopping when they want, with 44% saying this was their biggest motivator. Close to half of 18-24 year old digital users (48%) report shopping more online and less at physical stores this year. Parents appreciate the convenience too. One respondent noted, “I just asked my daughter to give me a list of what she wanted and she included links, so I went online and it was much easier than going to the store.”

Digital Devices Help Consumers Navigate Deal Volume

One quarter (24%) of Americans feel like there have been more deals offered this holiday season. An increasing number are using their digital devices to help them navigate and find the best bargains, with four in ten (43%) saying that, compared to last holiday shopping season, they are relying more on their smartphone, tablet, or computer. This is particularly true of 18-24 year old digital users, 59% of whom agree with the statement. As one respondent noted: “I bought a lot more gifts on my iPad than I did last year, just because it was convenient. I could do it wherever I was, I didn’t have to be at my desk, I could be watching TV, or in bed or wherever…”

While there were more deals to be had, the number of options available this holiday season made finding the best deal more cumbersome for some. Even among smartphone users, four in ten report “feeling overwhelmed the past few weeks with so many holiday shopping deals offered by email, newspapers, in stores, etc.” At the same time, seven in ten Americans like the fact that many Cyber Monday sales are now being extended into Cyber Week.

To aid in their navigation, savvy smartphone owners report putting digital devices to use at a higher rate this year across a wide variety of shopping behaviors. The biggest increases in use from the 2011 post-Thanksgiving holiday season include smartphone users reporting digital device use in the following ways:

  • Researched and browsed for products (82%, up from 67% in 2011)
  • Bought something (74%, up from 55%)
  • Used an email offer from a retailer (62%, up from 45%)
  • Used a consumer rating site to help them decide to buy a product (56%, up from 40%)
  • Used a mobile coupon (33%, up from 18%)

Areas to Watch

SapientNitro has identified a number of rising shopper trends to watch over the coming holiday seasons. According to the poll, among consumers who have smartphones:

  • 35% used their GPS/location feature on their phone to help with holiday shopping (vs 31% in 2011)
  • 27% used a QR code to find more information about a product (vs 19% in 2011)
  • 9% used a Black Friday or Cyber Monday mobile app
  • 7% have purchased something on their tablet

“One area we think will be transforming the retail landscape is mobile payments,” continued Davey. “With nearly six in 10 smartphone users in our survey reporting that they’d like to see retailers offer mobile payment options, the industry must align quickly. As competing cloud-based and NFC models are sorted out and stores install the required technology, we see mobile payments as the big shift next holiday season and beyond.”

Supplementary Survey Materials

Data graphs and pull quotes are available for download:

Companion video interviews of holiday shoppers can be viewed at:

The dialogue continues on Twitter #howishop.

Note to journalists: survey data available upon request. Email: David LaBar at [email protected].

How the poll was conducted

The third annual SapientNitro Holiday Shopping Poll was conducted December 14 - 16, 2012, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications – a division of GfK Custom Research North America on behalf of SapientNitro, named a leading digital marketing agency and provider of commerce services by analyst firms, Gartner and Forrester Research. This telephone poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,007 general population adults age 18 or older reached on landline telephones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples.

About GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications

GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, a division of GfK Custom Research North America. Headquartered in New York, GfK Custom Research North America is a part of The GfK Group, one of the world’s largest research companies, with more than 11,000 experts working to discover new insights about the way people live, think and shop, in over 100 markets, every day. With home offices in Nuremberg, Germany, The GfK Group is the No. 4 market research organization worldwide. Its activities cover two main core business divisions: Consumer Choices and Consumer Experiences.

About SapientNitro

SapientNitroSM, part of Sapient®, is an integrated marketing and technology services firm. We create and engineer highly relevant experiences that accelerate business growth and fuel brand advocacy for our clients. By combining multi-channel marketing, multi-channel commerce, and the technology that binds them, we influence customer behavior across the spectrum of content, communication and commerce channels, resulting in deeper, more meaningful relationships between customers and brands. SapientNitro services global leaders such as Citi, The Coca-Cola Company, Foot Locker, Lufthasna, Target, and Vodafone through our operations in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @sapientnitro.

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