Retailers lose 20% of sales to competitors as consumers buy online from rivals while in their stores

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The critical importance of retailers investing in a well-integrated omni-channel sales experience has been demonstrated by new research from Epson Europe, looking at consumer trends in the EU5 markets (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain).

Almost one in five European customers admit that they often purchase a product online from one retailer while looking at the product physically in a different retailer’s store. This figure points to the fact that retailers are potentially losing sales from 20% of their own footfall to rival brands with a better omni-channel retail presence or offer.

Adrian Clarke, director of business systems, Epson Europe, said: “The results clearly show the importance of integration between the in-store and online retail experience. Consumers told us repeatedly that their omni-channel experience was critical to brand perception, and that their experience online had a huge impact on their likelihood of visiting the physical store and vice-versa.”

The Epson research also puts a clear marker down in the online versus in-store sales debate, showing that while half of European consumer retail purchasing research is undertaken online, only 38% of actual purchasing happens the same way. Across Europe therefore, 62% of purchasing still happens in-store.

The highest average online sales levels reported by consumers were in the UK, where an estimated 45% of purchases are made online, with the lowest proportion being in Spain where only 33% of sales are made online.

As reported in the headline figure, buying behaviours have become more complex and many consumers now tend to integrate online and physical stores into their research and purchase. For example, 27% of people responded that they regularly research products online and in-store before buying online at home.

Customers also reported that while the primary motivation for researching and shopping online is entertainment and fun, price sensitivity and convenience are also important factors. Interestingly, from a demographic point of view, while age does not appear to be a factor in the decision to research and shop online, Europeans with a lower disposable income are more likely to use the online approach.

Meanwhile the primary motivations for shopping in-store were established to be ‘the ability to see / touch the product’ and ‘immediate availability of products’.