New omnichannel study highlights current retail preferences and how the customer journey is evolving

New omnichannel study highlights current retail preferences and how the customer journey is evolving

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Service Management Group (SMG), a global customer, employee and brand experience management partner to more than 500 brands, has published new research that highlights aspects of the cross-channel retail experience that matter most to consumers.

Using its brand experience platform to combine operational measurement with behavioral data, SMG fielded this study to understand preferred retail channels, what drives consumer shopping preferences and what shifts may be on the horizon. With feedback from more than 6,000 consumers, here are three key insights to help retail brands deliver a better omnichannel experience.

  1. In-store shopping reigns supreme – As many Americans have resumed most of their pre-pandemic routines, in-store shopping has not only returned in a big way—with 8 in 10 respondents shopping in store during the last 12 months—but consumer feedback highlights the go-forward importance of this channel with 52% of respondents saying it’s their preferred way to shop whereas just 1 in 4 respondents prefer delivery. While providing a great in-store experience is paramount, nearly half of respondents browse online before shopping in store, reinforcing the importance of providing a consistent cross-channel experience.
  2. “Free” beats “fast” – For consumers and retailers alike, delivery fees remain a prominent issue. When asked to select the most important factor when choosing how to make retail purchases, nearly 1 in 4 consumers selected free delivery. Furthermore, for consumers who prefer to do their retail shopping online, free delivery was nearly two times more popular than the second most selected option: ease of shopping online. With added costs coming from delivery and shipping, understanding customers’ expectations can help retailers drive priorities for both operations and the customer experience—especially important with the holiday season approaching.
  3. The omnichannel experience is built on digital – While free delivery is driving digital conversion, the importance of the digital experience is critical across the customer journey. In addition to 30% of respondents expecting to increase digital shopping in the next six months, more than a third of consumers are using websites and apps to get product details and browse before shopping in store. Roughly half of respondents indicated they are using digital channels to compare prices and view offers or promotions, and value-based shopping will likely continue growing with consumers reducing retail spending due to inflation.

“While the proverbial return to normal has been anything but predictable, the pillars of delivering a consistent retail experience have reemerged: cross-channel consistency, value and frictionless experiences,” said SMG Research Director Kurt Cederman. “With heightened concerns about inflation, retail brands will have to balance perceptions about value and convenience as we move into the holiday shopping season.”

To learn more about how SMG helps retail brands change how they act on customer + employee insights to drive stronger business outcomes, visit our retail industry page at

About Service Management Group
SMG is a leading experience management (XM) provider, accelerating value by changing how brands act on customer + employee insights. With a rich 30-year history rooted in The Service Profit Chain, SMG is the industry’s only software with a service (SwaS) provider—uniquely pairing an enterprise platform with professional services to help brands generate new revenue, grow existing revenue, reduce churn + detractors, and drive operational efficiencies. To learn more about our customer, employee, and brand experience management solutions, visit