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January 13, 2015

IBM study shows potential for growth for online retailers

Survey identifies gap between consumers’ attitudes and current online spending behaviour.

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Retailers around the world are missing out on online growth opportunities, even though consumers are more enthusiastic about buying over the internet, according to research.

A study by IBM analysed four years of survey data from 110,000 consumers worldwide, which identified a gap between their attitudes and spending habits.

It found that while 43% of consumers said they prefer to shop online, only 29% made their last purchase online.

There is also 20% gap between the percentage of people that say they enjoy shopping online and the percentage of people who actually made their last purchase online in the youth apparel and home living retail categories. And 54% said they see the benefit of mobile shopping, but 42% would share this information with retailers.

"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 of 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."

The research also revealed that 60% of consumers need to know if an item is in stock before going to the store, while 46% said it’s important that retail employees use mobile devices to fix an out of stock issue.

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Another 48% of shoppers said they value a personalised relationship with a retailer when they are online, while 44% of shoppers want an on-demand relationship in store, and 41% said it’s important that the shop offer promotions based on their purchase history or preferences.

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