Research - 07.03.2024 - 08:00 

New study on retail trends: in-store shopping is more popular again

Has online retail taken further market share from brick-and-mortar retail? How important are different contact points for the purchase decision? And which retailers are currently particularly well known? The new study "Omni-Channel Management 2024" answers these questions with a focus on Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Conclusion of the study by the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen: Shops currently have an advantage over digital sales channels. Retailers who offer their goods both online and in-store benefit from the versatility.
One conclusion of the study by the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG): Shops currently have an advantage over digital sales channels.

Thomas Rudolph, Nora Kralle and Christopher Schraml from the Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) have investigated the purchasing behaviour of omni-channel shoppers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For the fifth time, after 2011, 2014, 2017 and 2020, over 3,000 consumers were surveyed about their purchases from omni-channel retailers. Omni-channel means that retailers offer their products and services both online and in brick-and-mortar shops. The results of this study help companies from the retail industry and service sectors to understand changes in cross-channel purchasing behaviour.

Brick-and-mortar retail is experiencing a renaissance

Since the pandemic, the question has become whether online retail will continue to gain in importance. Conclusion: Brick-and-mortar shops have once again replaced online shops as the preferred shopping channel in the DACH region in 2024. Respondents increasingly prefer to visit a shop again. This trend is particularly strong in Germany and Austria. 

  • For example, 51% of omni-channel consumers in the DACH region completed their last purchase in a brick-and-mortar shop. In 2021, this figure was still 43%. In contrast, 38% of consumers completed their purchase in an online shop. In 2021, this figure was 47% of respondents. 
  • The increasing popularity of brick-and-mortar retail is also confirmed by the use of contact points during shopping. 62% of consumers in the DACH region visited a brick-and-mortar shop during their last purchase (+4% compared to 2021) to obtain information or to make a purchase there. In contrast, only 59% visited an online shop (-9% compared to 2021). Compared to Germany and Austria, Switzerland is significantly more online-savvy and uses online shops more frequently. Here, the online shop remains the most frequently used point of contact (65% of Swiss consumers visited it during their last purchase process). 
  • In Germany and Austria, brick-and-mortar shops improved their price perception by 4% and 2% respectively compared to 2021. This partly explains the strong increase in stationary purchases in these countries. However, rising delivery costs for online purchases, supply chain problems with online orders and the desire to meet people in brick-and-mortar shops are also responsible.

Two thirds of all abandoned purchases are made online

Around 40 out of 100 purchase plans will be cancelled in 2024 or will not lead to a purchase being completed. Around 67% of these cancelled purchases occur when shopping online. Online retail is therefore much more affected. In 2021, 45 out of 100 purchases were abandoned. The purchase abandonment rate has therefore fallen by around 11%. The top 5 reasons for purchase cancellations, whether stationary or online, are (1) The price of the product was too high. (2) I wasn't sure yet or couldn't make an informed decision. (3) The product was not available in the size / colour / design I wanted. (4) The shipping fee in the online shop was too high. And (5) I didn't need the product.

The best-known omni-channel retailers 

According to this study, the best-known omni-channel retailers in Germany are (1) MediaMarkt, (2) Saturn, (3) LIDL, (4) H&M and (5) REWE. LIDL and REWE in particular gained in popularity. H&M, on the other hand, slipped from second to fourth place. 

In Austria, the best-known omni-channel retailers are: (1) MediaMarkt, (2) Billa, (3) H&M, (4) Thalia and (5) C&A. MediaMarkt was able to further expand its leading position, while Billa and H&M have become less popular. 

In Switzerland, consumers are most familiar with both the online shop and the physical shop of the following retailers: (1) Migros, (2) Coop, (3) H&M, (4) Interdiscount and (5) Manor. 

The data collection was financially supported by Handelsverband.Swiss, Boost Group AG and the Swiss Retail Federation. 

Image: Unsplash / Tara Clark

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