The Merchant Experience: Offline Shopping Is Not Dead


The dynamics of shopping are changing, but not how you might think. New Mercator Advisory Group survey finds consumers are still largely shopping offline, but technology is becoming more prevalent in the shopping experience.

Author: Peter Reville
Published on: July 1, 2019


Mercator Advisory Group’s most recent Insight Summary report, 2019 Customer Merchant Experience: Offline Shopping Is Not Dead, reveals that U.S. consumers shop predominantly offline in physical stores but that mobile phones are an increasingly integral part of the shopping experience. The report is the first of three in the annual Customer Merchant Experience Survey Series, which is part of in Mercator’s Primary Data Service, and presents findings of an online survey of 3,000 U.S. adult consumers conducted in March 2019.

The survey found U.S. consumers currently consider Walmart and Target as providing the best in-store experience. When it comes to the online shopping experience, Amazon tends to dominate consumers’ opinions.

The top attributes consumers said they look for in a retailer are related to quality, availability, payment method, and the security of their data. When they shop in stores, convenience, the ability to physically see the goods, and not having to wait for delivery are the attributes they deem most important. When they shop online, their top ranked attributes are free shipping, the right price, and the freedom of shopping whenever and whenever they want.

The report identifies consumers who fit into three distinct groups based on their personal opinions about technology: Average, “Tech Forward,” and Laggards. Tech Forward consumers are those who are first to use the new technologies and channels to make the shopping experience better.

“U.S. consumers’ expectations of the retail experience are changing. They are using many of the techniques they learned in online shopping in the physical location. The brick-and-mortar establishments need to keep up with the changes and technology and the changes in the way consumers shop,” stated the author of the report, Pete Reville, Director of Primary Data Services including Customer Merchant Experience Survey Series at Mercator Advisory Group.

Companies mentioned in the report include: Amazon, Costco, eBay, Home Depot, Kohls, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart.


Highlights of this report include:

  • Younger consumers tend to shop at a broader selection of retailers than older consumers.
  • In line with the U.S. census data, consumers report that the bulk of their purchases have been at offline at physical retail locations.
  • Consumers are more likely to be researching online or by mobile phone before buying, going to stores to buy, and buying online than they were 12 months ago. This is consistent with the findings reported from last year’s survey.
  • Many respondents vary their payment choice based on the type of store where they are shopping. For example, they are more likely use cash to pay in fast food restaurants and convenience stores than in other establishments.
  • The mobile device plays an important role in the shopping experience. Seven in 10 consumers report using their mobile device to buy and/or research products or services.



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