Customers Are Wishing Physical Retail Was More like Online

Everybody is aware of the stellar performance of online retail during the global pandemic, both internationally and specifically in regions that experienced lengthy and restrictive lockdowns. And, as expected, the gradual lifting of restrictions has led to a rise in in-person shopping once more. But have we now grown too accustomed to the ease and speed of online retail?

In a recent survey of 1,600 US shoppers, Reflect Systems discovered that although shoppers have predictably missed high-street retail and the benefits of physically interacting with goods, they also feel like they’re losing out on the upsides of shopping online. This has been built into a narrative that brick-and-mortar retailers need to provide more in-store tech for their customers, but could we look at this from the opposite angle?

For so long online retail has been focused on trying to replicate the offline experience, and we’ve seen that stall. In a separate survey run by YouGov on behalf of Zakeke, 71% of U.S. consumers who had purchased online in the last 12 months have never used any virtual try-on or any AR online tech while shopping. Although these systems continue to become more powerful and less complicated for the shopper to access, we’re still seeing a comparatively low take-up for numerous reasons.

While progress in this area will undoubtedly continue for some time, maybe it’s time to just celebrate all the things that online retail does that physical retail could never do? And, maybe, devote some of all this time and development into making online the best it can be, without an envious backwards glance at the physical experience.