Even In-Store Shoppers Would Rather Consult Their Phones Than Store Associates, Says Study

Welcome to the digital age, where screens have become omnipresent in just about every American’s daily activity — even when it comes to shopping.

In fact, consumers who frequent brick-and-mortar stores seem to prefer their mobile devices over real-life interaction. According to a survey published by online coupon aggregator RetailMeNot, more than two-thirds of shoppers (69%) would rather consult their phones than store associates when it comes to reviewing products.

The findings support a study released in October by Chicago-based research firm HRC Retail Advisory, which found that 83% of consumers prefer using smartphones for help while shopping in stores and would rather be left alone by sales associates.

“Smartphones are an instrumental part of the shopping journey and have become a pseudo-salesperson for the consumer,” HRC president Farla Efros said at the time. “Retailers must understand the connections shoppers have to their mobile devices and merge offline and online channels to create a seamless experience in-store.”

Moreover, RetailMeNot — which commissioned the survey from strategy consultancy firm Kelton Global — noted that 69% of respondents said that receiving personalized offers on their phones that they can use in stores would make them more likely to visit physical retail locations.

“Mobile is on the cusp of becoming not only the biggest traffic driver to retail sites but also the biggest avenue for placing orders,” Caila Schwartz, senior industry strategist at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, told FN last year. “The growth values are even more staggering — all of the growth in traffic and orders came from mobile.”

That’s not to say physical stores have lost their edge. In its report, RetailMeNot pointed out that Americans were 30% more likely to complete a purchase in person than on their smartphones, even when they find deals on their phones.

Separately, a study circulated last month from analytics firm First Insight found that both men and women were still spending more in stores than online during the average shopping visit.

Watch FN’s interview with shoe designers.

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