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Consumers Frustrated by Discrepancies Between Web And Physical Stores

02 June 2010 - 15:30 by Graham Miller

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It appears that whilst online retail prospers and goods continue to be purchased in bricks-and-mortar stores in significant volumes, the two channels are less compatible than many may have believed. Whilst consumers are generally happy when they research products on the web before buying products in high street stores, the same cannot be said in the inverse. Consumers who first research products in-store and subsequently move to safe shopping online for the same products appear to be less than satisfied with the results.

That is according to an online survey of over 4,000 consumers conducted by Forrester Research, identifying phones, electronics, clothing and footwear as typical of the high touch items for which this trend is most pronounced. For example, when it comes to clothing items, just over half of consumers who hit the stores before the web expressed satisfaction, whilst 60 per cent of those who did things the other way round were satisfied. In the field of consumer electronics, 55 per cent of consumers were satisfied with the results of safe shopping online after researching in-store, versus 66 per cent of those who headed to the store after researching online.

So what causes this discrepancy in consumer satisfaction ratings? The researchers found that when consumers hit the websites of high street retailers, they often fail to find the same product or, if they do, it is not always offered at the same price. Many were less than enamoured when they realised that, having identified a product in-store at an acceptable price point, the delivery charges associated with purchasing precisely the same product from the same retailer online resulting in an overall price increase.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers concluded that offering free delivery to consumers might be one way in which to improve consumer satisfaction levels, also emphasising the importance of precisely matching product names and numbers both on and offline to avoid any confusion.