Behaviors of in-store running shoe shoppers
There is extensive research done on consumer behaviors as it relates to online vs. in-store shopping, with most them categorizing shoes into the apparel and accessories budget. Where applicable, information as it relates specifically to shoes was included (and is referenced in this write-up). What follows is an analysis of the client’s questions, organized into the following: Behaviors of in-store and online shoppers, important aspects to creating displays, what drives consumers to purchase in-store instead of online, brand loyalty, how long consumers spend researching before making a purchase, and what types of purchases are most likely to be made in-store vs. online. Further, information on the behaviors and demographics of shoppers is included, as it relates to differences between the two groups, behaviors of people who buy in-store vs. online, and any demographic and behavior information as it relates to online vs. in-store shoppers.
BEHAVIORS OF SHOPPERS
45% of men, and 36% of women shop for footwear exclusively in store. Recent studies show that if consumers are going to shop online, they will do so for research, and then pick-up and/or purchase in-store.
Online and "mobile assisted":
There are five kinds of mobile or online shoppers (as an overview of online shopping, not exclusive to running shoes, but still relevant based on consumer behaviors):
Experience-Seekers (31.7%): They “value the best experience, not just the price." 22% are between the ages of 40 and 49.
Traditionalists (30.2%): “Prefer the in-store shopping experience.” 20% are between the ages of 50 and 64.
Price-Sensitives (19.4%): "Don’t plan, but always opt for deals.” 26% are between the ages of 30 and 39.
Further, numerous reasons can lead a consumer into the store for purchase, after doing online research.
“47% don't want to pay for shipping.”
“23% don't want to wait for the product to delivered.”
“46% like to go to a store to touch and feel a product before they buy.”
“36% will ask the store to price match a better price found online.”
“37% like the option of being able to return the item to the store if needed.”
Important aspects to highlight in displays
For in-store displays, businesses must first identify who their target customer is, beyond demographics of age, education, and household income. By understanding their lifestyles (research the data in your point-of-sale-system), you can understand further how they are as an individual. You can also utilize online resources to help create clean and eye-catching displays. Examples include websites such as Design Retail Online, Smart Retailer, Pinterest, and Shopify. Specialists recommend remembering to utilize all five senses in your displays, beyond just focusing on sight:
Sight: Use colors “as psychological triggers, and leverage lighting, symmetry, balance and contrast” when constructing your displays. Utilizing spotlights to highlight a specific shoe is also a great way to cause an eye-popping display that will cause your consumers to take a second look.
Sound: Music tempo and volume can affect how a consumer shops. Slow people down with mellow music to encourage browsing, while using a top 40 playlist will bring a younger generation into the store.
Touch: Make your display interactive — allow for the consumer to pick up the shoe, see it from all angles, and make trying on easy.
Smell: Utilizing smell in visual displays is a growing trend. Companies like Samsung and Verizon have begun utilizing light scents in the store, as smell “is a fast-track to the system in your brain that controls both emotion and memory”.
Taste: Not relevant for a running shoe store, but wanted to mention to round out the five senses. Utilized in consumable retailers (think Williams Sonoma).
Further, have your sales staff wearing the shoes you’re selling. It gives the consumer an idea of what they would look like walking around in their shoes. Group your shoe categories together — for example, have things organized by price, or color, or gender, or type (running support shoes vs. lightweight shoes).
Lastly, the “rule of three” is typically applied in retail displays. Meaning when you’re arranging your products, you want to have three of them side by side. If a consumer sees something symmetrical or balanced, they’re more likely to “stop dead in their tracks…and keep their attention longer on your product displays.”
WHAT DRIVES CUSTOMERS TO BUY AT THE STORE INSTEAD OF ONLINE?
Along the lines of in-store displays, brick and mortar retail locations are more likely to be successful if they offer their products in an omni-channel fashion; web, social, mobile, and physical store options. 56% of online shoppers report they would spend more money in a physical store if they were able to look at the items offered online prior to their visit.
Sales employee knowledge is a top driver in consumers making a purchase in-store. An example from a consumer discussed he originally intended to just try on a running shoe in-store, and then go back online to find the best price. However, once he realized how many questions he had, and that every employee was able to answer his questions (many were runners themselves), it led him to purchase in-store at his local running boutique. In the end, he paid 30% more for a pair of running shoes in-store, based on the personal experience with the sales staff and their knowledge of running.
Consumers still appreciate the human interaction of in-store shopping. They want intelligent answers to their questions, and want the return, exchange, or refund experience to be as seamless as possible. 86% of online shoppers report a willingness to purchase in-store if there is a discount on the total purchase, while 78% report shopping in-store if there is a price matching on products. 71% like bonus rewards offered in-store, and 63% look for extended warranties.
Brand loyalty doesn’t affect consumers like it used to. “Digital disruption” has led to changes in consumer behaviors, as it allows consumers online to easily look at multiple products, features, and prices, regardless of brand. Recent research shoes that purchases in shoe retail are only 3% loyalty driven. For reference, the only three categories that ranked as loyalty driven are mobile phones, auto insurance companies, and investments. Looking at an average across the categories surveyed (primarily retail products), 13% of consumers are loyalists, with 58% switching brands.
However, that’s not to say brand loyalty cannot be achieved. If a brand is well-known and established (e.g. Coca-Cola, Apple, Disney), or as a nostalgic appeal (e.g. Tide was the detergent your mom uses), consumers are more likely to stick to that brand. If you’re an established local business with a good reputation, you’re more likely to have loyal local customers. Millennials ages 18-34 are currently the most likely generation to be brand loyal.
Additionally, high-quality products are a “consistent driver of brand loyalty”. Utilizing your online presence in social media can also drive brand loyalty, as you can directly interact with your consumers on a personal level.
If you can drive an emotional connection with your consumers, they’re more likely to be brand loyal. Promote positive stories, body image (running shoes, healthy lifestyle), or post fun facts and “quick daily tips” to help inspire your customers.
HOW LONG DO CUSTOMERS SPEND LOOKING AND RESEARCHING BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE?
As it relates to apparel & accessory online shopping, 2/3 of shoppers will browse products online at least once a month, 1/3 of online purchases are impulse buys, and almost 40% of online purchases are made from a consumer’s phone. 2/3 of consumers will begin searching directly on a retailer’s site (e.g. Target, Nike), while the remaining 1/3 go through a search engine. From the first search of a product online to purchase, the average number of days between the two is 8.4, with an average of 13 products viewed (for apparel and accessories).
WHAT TYPE OF PURCHASES ARE MOST LIKELY TO BE IN-STORE VS. ONLINE, AND WHY?
Larger purchases (such as a TV, refrigerator, etc.) are more likely to be purchased in store, as customers “want to test the products they are shopping for.”
Looking at retail, clothing or shoes are more likely to be purchased online by A18-34 (56%) and A35-44 (52%). Baby care products are least likely to be purchased online (17% A18-34 and 40% A35-44), due to the sensitivity of products chosen by new moms that are safe for their children.
ARE THERE ANY NOTABLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROUPS (ONLINE VS. IN-STORE) SHOPPERS
51.5% of females have made a digital purchase online, while 47% of males have. The most common ages to purchase online are A25-34 (61.1%) and A35-44 (60%), followed by A18-24 (54.7%) and A45-54 (51.5%).
BEHAVIORS OF PEOPLE WHO BUY IN-STORE VS. ONLINE
While specific behaviors could not be found as they relate to shoe purchases only, retail shopping as a whole was publicly available. Online purchasers tend to lean towards online instead of in-store for convenience purposes. 68% say free return shipping is a driving force in online purchases, while 64% report online discounts and 44% like that a website can have many unique products. While 74% of “omnishoppers” (those who utilize all avenues of shopping, i.e. fully purchasing online, or researching online and purchasing in-store, or purchasing online and picking up in-store) look forward to shopping in store, but more than half end up purchasing online due to a lack of time.
For these behaviors, are there any notable differences between groups (age, sex, established customer, etc.).
52% of global shoppers prefer to first research for clothing and footwear online, and 34% do their research in-store. Of the 52% doing online research, 31% use a computer, while 12% use their smartphone. In terms of purchases, 51% prefer to purchase in-store (for clothing and footwear).
39.43% of consumers reported never purchasing sports shoes online. 26.72% reported purchasing sports shoes in-store less than once a year, while 21.49% reported purchasing once a year in-store, and 22% reported purchasing once every 6 months in-store.
Below are further demographic and behavioral comparisons of online vs. in-store shoppers. It is important to note that this study was done in 2014, however I felt it relevant to include based on the extensive details provided, and that it specifically calls out shoe buyers included in the data.
Seeing and touching the product is the top driver for purchasing shoes in store (56%), followed by 15% who like the act of browsing through products, and 13% want to take home their purchase the same day.
Looking at online shopping behaviors, the most crucial factors are convenience (15%), variety and selection (15%), and ease of price comparison (8%).
In-store: 36% younger than 34
Online: 42% are younger than 34
In-store: 57% have children or grandchildren
Online: 53% have children or grandchildren
In-store: 17% have a graduate or PhD degree
Online: 18% have a graduate or PhD degree
*please note — percentages do not add up to a perfect 100 due to rounding.
Follow trends/current events/music:
In-store: 35% follow closely
Online: 43% follow closely
Influenced by recommendations on social media:
Own a smartphone:
Own a tablet:
Look for online reviews prior to purchase:
To summarize the above, gender is relatively flat across online and in-store shoppers, while younger shoppers tend to shop online instead of in-store. Education and HHI do not have an impact on online vs. in-store shopping decisions. Online shoppers are more likely to be influenced by comments, reviews, and recommendations about a product on social media, and are more likely to own a smartphone and a tablet.
As a conclusion, consumers are shopping for retail items utilizing a blend of online and in-store options. They may research different running shoes online, and compare prices, but will purchase in-store if the sales associate is knowledgeable, and can help them make the best decision for their running style. While gender doesn't effect online vs. in-store purchases, the younger generation is more likely to purchase online, as they are more likely to utilize technology and seek out online reviews.