Conversational commerce is gaining steam while in-store shopping reigns supreme when it comes to nabbing bargains, according to Citi Retail Services annual nationwide back-to-school shopping survey.

Respondents: In-Store Shopping Yields Bigger Discounts

Although online shopping has grown massively in recent years, the majority (77%) of parents are still buying at brick-and-mortar stores to save money on back-to-school shopping via extra coupons or rewards programs, survey respondents said.

And nearly two out of three parents surveyed would rather drive an hour to pick up a last-minute back-to-school purchase in person than pay $25 to have it shipped overnight, the survey found.

But skirting online shipping costs is not the only reason back-to-school shoppers are heading to stores.

A survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers found that 88% of consumers will make a purchase in a physical store for their back-to-school purchases for the ability to see, touch and try on the products.

It will be interesting to see how consumers’ affection for in-store shoppping fares for back-to-school 2019. By then, retailers’ mounting array of technology platforms designed to let shoppers try on items without ever leaving home will have had a year to build consumer adoption — or not.

These include augmented reality platforms like Facebook’s AR ads that let shoppers virtually try on Michael Kors sunglasses, and Wayfair’s View in Room 3D mobile app, which enables consumers to see digital furniture and home décor in their homes at accurate scale from a variety of angles, before ever committing to a purchase.

Conversational Commerce Gaining Momentum

Among young parents, conversational commerce is gaining momentum. The survey found that 19% of parents between the ages of 18 and 29 are tapping voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, to do back-to-school shopping while performing other tasks.

That’s consistent with year round shopping trends. Younger internet users are more likely to shop by voice than the average consumer, 43% versus 30%, respectively, according to a recent survey by RichRelevance.

Savings Count, But Saving Time Counts, Too

“Even the most bargain-conscious shoppers won’t spend all day walking the aisles,” according to a Citi press release.

The top time-saving measures parents have taken while back-to-school shopping include doing all shopping at a single store or website (53%); ordering items online and picking them up in-store (44%); and shopping for items online while at work (28%).

Source: Forbes
Press Release: Business Wire
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