Omnichannel Retailing Trends in 2018

August 20, 2018

It’s not about online or in-store sales; it’s about all-lines that provide a seamless customer experience across every channel.

Omnichannel shoppers are shifting effortlessly among different digital channels and in-store. Are retailers?

The U.S. Omnichannel Retail StatPack 2018 that eMarketer released takes a deep dive into omnichannel trends. We highlight key findings about omnichannel, the path to purchase, in-store purchases, digital purchases and product delivery in this article.


Although omnichannel is most often defined as providing a “seamless experience, regardless of channel or device,” the precise meaning differs, depending on which retailer you ask:

67% define it as “having different methods for transacting with your customer”

66% define it as “delivering a seamless and consistent customer experience across sales channels”

64% “define it as marketing geared towards customers converting on any channel”

40% “define it as processes like click and collect”

37% “define it as giving customers the ability to see orders in one place”

21% “define it as speedy delivery times”

No matter how you prefer to define it, there was a 13% increase in the number of retailers who said their omnichannel businesses were profitable from 2016 to 2017.

Omnichannel customers generate a higher lifetime value in terms of sales than digital-only or in-store only shoppers. Omnichannel shoppers make up 7% of US customers yet account for 27% of all sales.

Sales are shifting away from in-store to digital purchases. Retailers estimate a 14% decrease in the amount of in-store sales in the next 12-18 months.

One in 4 retailers have already implemented customer omnichannel experiences and 53% of retailers plan to implement omnichannel throughout 2018. The top omnichannel challenges that retailers face are:

61% budget pressure

58% turning data into usable insights

52% integrating different selling channels

48% choosing and implementing new tech

48% integrating with other marketing

42% communicating the value/need to senior management

36% competition from online retailers

36% price transparency

33% finding/retaining good staff

30% high customer expectations

Path to Purchase

The channel that customers use for research is most likely the same channel that is used to make a purchase, although there is still some cross-channel research and purchasing occurring:

53% of consumers start researching digitally; of those, 34% purchase digitally and 19% purchase in-store

48% of consumers start researching in-store; of those, 42% purchase in-store and 6% purchase digitally

Digital influences 50% of in-store sales and is expected to influence 58% of total sales by 2022. The most prevalent digital influences are:

52% recommendations from family/friends

47% online consumer reviews

Customers tend to webroom (research online and buy in-store) more than they showroom (see an item in-store and buy it online).

38% of US internet users research via mobile and buy in-store

22% of US internet users see an item in-store then by it online via mobile

In-Store Shoppers

Shopping in-store has its benefits for both shoppers and retailers. Seven in 10 in-store shoppers make an impulse purchase. And shoppers think in-store has better customer service, is more reliable, has higher quality and has the “fun factor” over digital shopping channels.

The top categories for in-store purchases are:

97% food and beverage

88% paper/plastic household products

87% cleaning supplies

80% personal care products

72% home furniture/furnishings

71% lawn/garden goods

67% tableware/kitchenware/cookware

65% medicine/vitamins

56% clothing/footwear/accessories

52% cosmetics/fragrances

51% electronics

The top frustrations when buying in-store from digital shoppers include:

32% store lacks inventory of needed item

21% inconvenient location

20% takes too long to make the purchase

16%  unhelpful sales staff

5% no in-store WiFi

Digital Shoppers

In general, consumers use a desktop or laptop to look for specific products and use a mobile device for browsing. No matter which device they are using, digital shoppers show clear preferences for whey plan to shop in 2018:

83% retail websites

70% in-store

42% brand sites

26% via search engines

20% flash sale sites

12% apps

7% social media

4% via voice

The top reasons shoppers use digital channels are:

56% convenience

46% time spent

45% low-cost options

Delivery Preferences

Cost, timeliness and convenience are the major factors consumers consider when deciding on delivery options.

Customers have high delivery expectations:

75% prefer shipping to in-store pickup

63% expect 3 days as standard delivery timeframe

40% say delivery that takes more than 2 days prevents them from making a purchase

Buy online, pickup in-store is the most-preferred delivery method by 18-29 year-olds. About 1 in 4 digital shoppers under 30 would favor the click-and-collect option. The top reasons why digital shoppers use buy online, pickup in-store:

50% high shipping cost

50% immediate need

43% product discount

33% long shipping time

28% product not offered in-store without digital order

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Marketing Strategy
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