Digital's impact on sales soars

Digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores, totaling $2.1 trillion by the end of the year – up from 14 cents of every dollar spent just three years ago.

The ability for retailers to influence the digital journey is decreasing as digital platforms such as Facebook and Google increase interactions with shoppers, according to a new report by Deloitte.

"Any retailer who thinks they can build their own personalized experience to interact with customers anywhere near the extent of major digital platforms and find success may be disappointed with their results," said Jeff Simpson, principal, Deloitte Consulting. "Their limited interaction with customers – about six to eight transactions per year – limits their understanding of the 'moments that matter' in a personalized experience such as purchase intent and preference."

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"Instead, retailers should more aggressively embrace integration and the native capabilities of the major digital platforms where their customers have already chosen to interact and transact," he said.

Digital activity now crosses demographic lines, with 78 percent of non-millennials now using digital devices two to three times during a shopping trip.

Shoppers are also more comfortable with giving up some privacy and more willing to share information in exchange for more personalized service.

"The important thing to remember is that most of today's buying power still remains with non-millennials," said Lokesh Ohri, senior manager, Deloitte. "A better idea is to consider all the verifying types of customers, determine how they use digital differently in the purchasing journey and create a broad range of customized experiences for each."

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While generational differences are disappearing, those between product categories and how consumers research and shop have not. Electronics remains the most digitally influenced category with 69 percent of transactions impacted by digital interaction prior to a purchase, but two surprising product categories are increasingly impacted by platforms: grocery (food and beverage), and health and wellness.