Because most consumers prefer making purchases in a store, but rely on online research to do so, Revel Systems is telling retailers it is time to get out of the "Dark Ages" if they have not yet embraced omnichannel technology.
That message isn't lost on larger retailers that have increasingly turned to mobile commerce and developed branded apps and mobile wallets to increase sale and lure shoppers into their stores.
But it's a message that has to get out to smaller retailers, Revel said, in light of the company's research that revealed 93% of consumers say they research an item online before buying it in a store, while 64% think it is important for a retailer to have a strong online presence.
Payments technology provider Revel surveyed more than 2,500 consumers during a week in July, divided nearly equally between males and females, and spanning ages 18 to 60 to compile the data for its annual retail report.
More than 86% of consumers shopped in a physical retail location at least twice a month, the report said, while 66% say they shop online that same amount of time.
That disparity increases among those who shopped in person at least four times in a month, at 63%, while the number who shopped online that number of times dropped to 28%.
The data reveals retailers need to understand consumers still prefer physical retail locations, but also want access to online and mobile channels to interact with a retailer to research products and make payments, said Bobby Marhamat, Revel's chief revenue officer.
"The biggest component is that the retailers using digital means to bring people into physical locations are the ones who are busy and are making up for the perception that people are not going into brick and mortar locations," Marhamat said.
Retailers know the hype around mobile wallets at the physical point of sale hasn't panned out with consumer adoption, but they are seeing how mobile and e-commerce interacts with the physical retail site, Marhamat added.
"One method is making a purchase online and picking it up at the store location," Marhamat said. "But the second preference remains the use of cash or payment card instruments, rather than mobile wallets."
Consumers are five times more likely to develop brand loyalty by shopping in person, rather than online, the report said. Overall, 56% of consumers prefer shopping in a store as opposed to online. Further, 94% believe it is important to support independent and local small businesses.
And those are the merchants that have to adopt new technology to continue to reach consumers of all ages, Marhamat said.
Because the retailing business "is a declining market," it becomes more apparent that different segments of retail are affected more than others by e-commerce and advancement of mobile payment technology, said Tim Sloane, director of emerging technologies advisory services for Boston-based Mercator Advisory Group.
"You can see the segments, like Starbucks, that are leveraging the technology and are capable of thriving on it because of the product they offer and how it enables online and mobile purchases, while helping handle inventory and controlling lines in the stores," Sloane said. "But it is not a model that will work for everyone."
Still, retailers can make an impact with some smaller steps by offering prepaid cards during the holidays that consumers can later use for online or in-store shopping, Sloane added.
What remains unclear is how quickly payments and omnichannel technology will combine and change consumer shopping habits, Sloane said. "Will there be a time when I am putting a virtual reality headset on at my home to see if a suit I am thinking about buying would fit me?" Sloane asks. "It's really going to be segment dependent."
Revel has advanced beyond its iPad-based point of sale system to offer a platform for retailers for online ordering, e-commerce, and mobile, while continuing to work on building in loyalty programs for retailers, Marhamat said. Late last year, the company opened offices in London to help fuel its growth in the European market.