Retail wars: How does brick and mortar stack up in a battle against its online retailer?

If the Retail Trade sector were a kingdom, then online would sit firmly on the throne.

According to our most recent Retail and Consumer Shipping Report, while the sector evens out following two years of decline, only one industry sees its customer satisfaction soar: internet retail, up 1.3% to a score of 81.

Customers continue to chase the best, most convenient shopping experience available, and right now online is king. Customers can find what they need more easily and aren’t pestered by salespeople. When you look at online versus brick and mortar head-to-head, online wins every time.

Given this idea that “online wins every time,” we decided to compare three online retailers with their brick-and-mortar counterparts to see how well this held up. Here’s what we found.

Target.com vs. Target: Same score, different story

Despite dropping 3% year over year, Target.com maintains the same score as its counterpart in the department and discount category, both at 78.

Among internet retailers, ease of checkout and payment process (86) is the highest individual benchmark. On the contrary, this metric finishes dead last among department and discount stores with a score of 71. This trend holds true when comparing Target.com and Target.

Target.com is near the high end of internet retailers in store speed. The physical store, however, while among the better performers in the department and discount store space, still trails its online counterpart by a wide margin.

Although customers agree that online retailers possess a stronger variety of merchandise (84 to 77) and availability of inventory (82 to 75) than department and discount stores, Target.com and Target buck the trend, sharing the same score in both respects.

In the end, despite trailing internet retail leader Amazon (83), Target is making a concerted effort to boost its online presence. Target.com is expanding its same-day delivery service and creating its own “Deal Days” online event in the vein of Amazon Prime Day.

Nordstrom.com vs. Nordstrom: Traditional retail gets online bump

Only three companies boast scores above the internet retail industry average. The one traditional retailer? Nordstrom.

Nordstrom.com improves 1% to a score of 82, besting its brick-and-mortar counterpart, which remains unchanged at 79. Nordstrom.com outpaces Nordstrom in most individual benchmarks, including variety and inventory.

One of the biggest disparities between the physical store and its online counterpart is the ease and speed of the checkout process. Both thrive within their respective categories, but Nordstrom.com is significantly better than Nordstrom. In fact, Nordstrom.com is tied for the top score among all internet retailers.

Sears.com vs. Sears: Started at the bottom …

… and they’re both still there. Sears.com and Sears each have the lowest customer satisfaction scores in their respective categories.

Although Sears rose 1% among department and discount stores to a score of 71, it still sits below internet retail bottom dweller, Sears.com, which stayed put at 73. Sears.com also remains higher than Walmart’s department and discount store, which dropped 1% to 71 as well.

Sears.com offers slightly better variety than the brick-and-mortar store and stocks a greater inventory. Customers also give Sears.com the edge in speed and ease of checkout.

One area where Sears outshines its online brethren is with its support. Customers find Sears’ in-store staff more helpful and courteous than that of online customer support. This is interesting considering the opposite holds true for the two categories – internet retail and department and discount stores – as a whole.

The big picture is clear

The Retail sector experienced widespread declines last year. Just one year later, the message is crystal clear: Online shopping is the focus.

While traditional retailers aren’t falling by the wayside, more and more companies recognize their customers continue to shift toward the internet. The online shopping experience is easy, convenient, fast, and there’s no salesperson physically chasing you around the store trying to get you to buy something.

The retail battle may wage on as brick and mortar isn’t going away. But as it stands, this is a pretty one-sided affair.

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