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Digital influence rises at retail

Published: May 13, 2015
A study by Deloitte Digital predicts that digital interactions will influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores by the end of 2015.

Deloitte Digital defines “digital influence” as the percentage of brick-and-mortar retail sales affected by shoppers’ use of digital devices.

“Retailers often use the wrong metric -- e-commerce sales -- to indicate whether their digital strategy is working,” says Kasey Lobaugh, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Digital’s chief retail innovation officer. “Last year, e-commerce sales represented $300 billion, or just 7 percent, of total retail sales, while digitally-influenced store sales were over five times higher, topping $1.7 trillion. Retailers that prioritize and design digital functionality with the sole purpose of driving sales in the e-commerce channel marginalize the consumer experience and risk ceding authority to competitors.”

Lobaugh notes that digital savvy can level the playing field for smaller businesses. “We are seeing a real change in the competitive dynamics, with digital as the great equalizer. The findings indicate that the large retailers are collectively losing ground to the much smaller competitors.”

The Deloitte study revealed several observations about the behavior of customers who use digital devices in their shopping:

• Mobile influence is increasing, but price-checking is declining.

• Digitally influenced consumers buy more and spend more.

• Hispanic and Latino customers are the most digitally influenced (49 percent compared with 32 percent across all ethnic groups).

• Digital-wielding consumers are “hunters, not gatherers” when they arrive in the store, having already made their buying decisions and perhaps buying online for in-store pickup.

Jeff Simpson, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the study, says, “Retailers should focus on designing and building customer experiences that play to how their customers are shopping for their products, rather than direct consumers to the point of purchase if what they really seek is inspiration or information.”