Deloitte Study: Digital Influences More than $1 Trillion in Retail Store Sales

New York - 28 April 2014

Digital shoppers purchase at a 40 percent higher rate in-store; 84 percent reach for devices before or during store visits 

Digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in the retail store, or approximately $1.1 trillion, according to the latest study from Deloitte Digital.  By the end of 2014, that number will climb to 50 percent, or $1.5 trillion of total store sales.

The study, "The New Digital Divide," is first-of-its-kind research that quantifies the extent to which consumers' use of desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones influences brick-and-mortar store sales.

"Mobile and online transactions represent only a sliver of total retail revenue potential," said Kasey Lobaugh, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Digital's chief retail innovation officer.  "Retailers that narrowly focus on digital commerce - rather than the full journey that leads to a purchase - often fail to recognize how their customers shop and make decisions in the store.  The result is a digital divide between what consumers do and what retailers deliver.  This gap not only threatens overall revenue, but requires retailers to reset the way they measure and invest in digital efforts."

Looking solely at smartphones, industry estimates put mobile commerce sales at roughly $40 billion[1] today.  By comparison, Deloitte Digital's data indicates that mobile-influenced sales in the store have reached $593 billion, suggesting that smartphones' influence on store sales has far surpassed the rate at which consumers make a purchase directly on their phones.

Fear no showrooming: Digital shoppers bring higher store traffic, conversion and spending 

Consumers using a device during their shopping journey convert - meaning they make a purchase -- at a rate 40 percent higher than those who do not use a device.   Additionally, Deloitte Digital found a dramatic impact on traffic, spending and loyalty from digital shoppers:

  • 84 percent of store visitors use their devices before or during a shopping trip.
  • 22 percent of consumers spend more as a result of using digital; just over half of these shoppers report spending at least 25 percent more than they had intended.
  • 75 percent of respondents said product information found on social channels influenced their shopping behavior and enhanced loyalty.

"Each interaction is an opportunity for a retailer to enhance the customer experience and tell its brand story," said Jeff Simpson, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and co-author of the study.  "However, retailers often measure success solely on how many widgets they sell through their web or mobile sites.   For example, retailers might regard online shopping cart abandonment as a failed conversion when in reality, it may represent a customer who started their wish list in the online basket, but chose to purchase the items in the store.  In that case, digital engagement may have led to a sale in the physical store.  This impact is much higher when measured holistically across the organization and regardless of channels, rather than force-fitted to a single point of purchase."

Eight in 10 shoppers prefer DIY; specialty stores most digitally-influenced Currently, more than 90 percent[2] of retail sales occur in brick-and-mortar stores, but the surging digital influence calls upon retailers to redefine marketing, the store associate's role and in-store technology.

Consumers largely prefer to navigate the aisles and the checkout without a store associate's help.  Eight in 10 (80 percent) respondents in Deloitte Digital's study said they prefer to obtain product information on their own device or from an in-store device like a kiosk, rather than ask a sales associate.

However, digital interactions are not "one-size-fits-all" and vary significantly by store category, with the highest influence occurring in specialty stores.  At the top is the electronics/appliances category, where devices influence 58 percent of store sales, followed by furniture (56 percent) and sporting goods (50 percent); the impact falls lower in categories like health/personal care/drug (35 percent), grocery (29 percent) and general merchandise/department/warehouse club (23 percent).

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte Digital and conducted online by an independent research company between November 15 and 22, 2013. The survey polled a national sample of 2,006 random consumers. Data were collected to be representative of the U.S. Census for gender, age, income and ethnicity. The national random sample and samples of smartphone owners and device owners have a margin of error of plus or minus 2-3 percentage points; the sample of tablet owners has a margin of error of plus or minus 3-4 percentage points.

From strategy to delivery, Deloitte Digital combines cutting-edge creative with trusted business and technology to define and deliver tomorrow's digital business. Deloitte Digital helps organizations balance the allure of emerging technologies with the realities of their business. From B2B, B2C, or B2E, Deloitte Digital delivers strategy, mobile, social, web, digital content, and digital ERP solutions that will help strengthen brands and evolve business. To learn more, visit or follow @DeloitteDigital on Twitter.

[1] eMarketer, "Total US Retail Sales Top $4.5 Trillion in 2013, Outpace GDP Growth," April 10, 2014

[2] Retail sales calculated using U.S. Census Bureau January-November 2013 actual sales totals and December 2013 Advance Monthly Retail Trade estimates

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