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Study: Digital divide separating retailers from shoppers hurts sales

Monday - 4/28/2014, 6:39am  ET

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A new study finds stores that frown on customers using smartphones to shop are making a big mistake.

Deloitte Digital says it found "showrooming," as it's called, actually boosts in-store purchases, contrary to fears that shoppers will make online purchases instead. The rate of in-store purchases surged by 40 percent when shoppers used mobile devices.

Kasey Lobaugh (LOH'- baw), Deloitte's chief retail innovation officer, says the influence of digital interactions on in-store sales "makes the growth of e-commerce pale in comparison."

Deloitte's data show digital interaction using a mobile device influenced $593 billion of in-store retail sales, compared with only $40 billion in "mobile commerce" -- purchases made with the device.

The study found in-store shoppers aren't just price-checking with mobile devices. They're looking for technical details, recommendations and information to make them more confident in their purchases.

But Lobaugh says very few retailers are eager to provide the functionality or the information that in-store shoppers want, and it's costing them business. Deloitte projects digital interactions will influence half of all store sales by the end of this year.

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