43% prefer online, yet 29% actually made last purchase digitally

While consumers are more enthusiastic in 2015 about online shopping and digital interactions with retailers, their behavior still lags behind. According to a new IBM study, consumer expectations are not being met, and retailers will need to close the gap in order to create trust and loyalty.

Looking at 110,000 consumers in 19 countries, 43 percent of respondents said they prefer to shop online, however, only 29 percent actually made their last purchase online. In the categories of youth apparel and home decor, there is a 20-point gap between the percentage of people that say they enjoy shopping online and those that actually made their last purchase online.

Trust among consumers still has some growing to do, as 42 percent said they see the benefit of sharing their location via GPS with retailers, but only 28 percent are willing to do so. And 54 percent of consumers see the benefit of sharing mobile information to get texts from retailers, but only 42 percent would actually share this information.

"With consumers switching seamlessly from online to the store it might appear that retailers have finally struck the right balance, but IBM's study identifies a significant gap between what shoppers want from retailers and what they are getting today," said Sarah Diamond, general manager, IBM Global Business Services. "Retailers may not be doing enough to meet consumer expectations shaped by digital experiences outside of retail—from location-based services to preference-based apps. The good news is that this gap also indicates the potential of growth for retailers who can meet those consumer expectations."

What do consumers want? High on the list, 60 percent, is to be able to find out if an item is in a store before going there. And 46 percent said it's important that retail employees use mobile devices to fix an out-of-stock issue, up six points from last year.

Personalized promotions also ranked high, as 48 percent of shoppers value initiating personalized communication with a retailer when they are online. When in-store, 44 percent of shoppers want on-demand communication and 41 percent want store associates to offer promotions based on purchase history.

The disconnect is also apparent in mobile shopping. According to a recent survey by Verifone, shoppers are eager to start using mobile payment platforms, as 84 percent admitted they would use a phone to pay for small and medium purchases. However, many U.S. adults are still unaware of these services or how to use them.

For now, the physical store continues to dominate the omnichannel retail space. "Sixty percent of all consumers want to shop in-store and consumers spend six times as much in-store as they do online," said Bal Dail, chairman of the board and CEO of JDA Software, during a keynote session at NRF's BIG Show.

*This story originally appeared in FierceRetailIT's sister publication, FierceRetail.

For more:
-See this IBM press release

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