The customer channel

Even with the focus on digital and mobile channels, NRF's Consumer View finds that physical retail remains an important touchpoint for consumers.

Consumers want convenience

Consumers want retail to be fast, simple and efficient. Whether shopping online or in a store, consumers are more likely to visit a retailer because they are looking for something specific rather than just to browse. This is particularly true for bricks-and-mortar, where 73 percent of shoppers say that they typically visit with a particular purchase in mind.

These intent-driven visits influence what consumers value when deciding from which retailers or brands to purchase. Nearly six in 10 said the ability to easily find what they want is one of the most important factors in selecting a retailer. Customers said they were also attracted to good customer service and a streamlined checkout process.

Holiday 2017

Retailers used events to drive in-store traffic during the 2017 holiday season. Walmart hosted more than 20,000 holiday parties with product demonstrations and visits from Santa, while Target hosted toy events and scavenger hunts. Brands such as Nintendo held pop-up experiences across the United States.

Getting consumers through the door

Physical retail remains an important touchpoint for consumers. Overall, only 21 percent of consumers are primarily online shoppers, purchasing more than half of their items online. The majority (79 percent) typically buy half or less of the items they need online. However, how consumers shop varies significantly depending on the what they’re buying.

Events and entertainment build the experience

Special store events or brand experiences also attract consumers. Nearly six in 10 respondents said they were interested in special events and experiences hosted by retailers. The most popular events offered the ability to try out products, exclusive access to sales, demonstrations and product tutorials.

Consumers and physical retail

It can be difficult to sway consumer behavior when it comes to physical retail. But younger consumers show they can be convinced to visit stores more frequently when offered the chance to have a new experience or pick up items they order online. NRF’s Fall consumer view found that half of Millennial/Gen Z respondents say they are shopping in stores more than they were a year ago.