Digital interactions are expected to influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores in the United States by the end of 2015, or US$2.2 trillion, according to Deloitte Digital’s latest study, “Navigating the New Digital Divide.” This figure has grown considerably from 14 cents of each dollar spent in brick-and-mortar stores in 2012, the first year Deloitte Digital conducted the annual study. A major shift that Cosmetics Europe President, Loïc Armand, recently pointed as a “a real change of paradigm”.
Deloitte Digital defines “digital influence” as the percentage of traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales impacted by shoppers’ use of digital devices. Deloitte Digital has also identified a growing digital divide where consumers’ digital behaviours and retailers’ ability to deliver on those consumer expectations continue to diverge.
“Retailers often use the wrong metric–e-commerce sales–to indicate whether their digital strategy is working,” says Kasey Lobaugh, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Digital’s chief retail innovation officer. “Last year, e-commerce sales represented US$300 billion, or just seven per cent, of total retail sales, while digitally-influenced store sales were over five times higher. Retailers that prioritize and design digital functionality with the sole purpose of driving sales in the e-commerce channel marginalize the consumer experience and risk ceding authority to competitors.”
While the upward trend in overall digital usage has accelerated, this year’s study uncovered dramatic new behaviours. Among consumers who use digital devices to shop:
- Mobile influence is up, but price checking is down. Actually, consumers are advancing in their sophistication-using mobile more often for inspiration and idea generation earlier in their shopping process, and not simply as a price comparison vehicle.
- Digitally-influenced consumers buy more and spend more. Consumers who use digital while they shop convert at a 20 per cent higher rate compared to those who do not use such devices. Consumers that access social media during the shopping process are four times more likely to spend more, and almost one-third (29 per cent) of those surveyed are more likely to make a purchase the same day they turn to social media before or during their shopping trip.
- Not all categories are equal. Digital behaviour has evolved across all categories, most notably baby/toddler and home furnishings.
- Consumers are hunters, not gatherers, once they arrive at the store. Nearly 8 in 10 consumers (76 per cent) surveyed interact with brands or products before arriving at the store. Shoppers now make buying decisions at other points, and even make purchases online to pick up in store.
“Retailers that fail to measure the influence of digital along the entire path to purchase can miss key indicators of performance and customer behaviour. Retailers should focus on designing and building customer experiences that play to how their customers are shopping for their products - rather than direct consumers to the point of purchase if what they really seek is inspiration or information,” concludes Jeff Simpson, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the study.