Brick-And-Mortar Stores Remain Attractive For Impulse Buying — But For How Long?

Consumer packaged goods in physical stores can still capitalize on a certain serendipity, eMarketer reports, but here too, e-commerce is catching up.

Consumers have a lot of complaints about shopping in stores, but brick-and-mortar stores have at least one thing going for them: they still command impulse shoppers.

But as an eMarketer report suggests, the e-commerce trend is catching up to satisfying those last-minute purchase decisions as well, particularly in the case of consumer packaged goods.

CPG has generally been taken for granted as an obvious strength of brick-and-mortar stores. But the rise of on-demand has allowed consumers to satisfy their immediate shopping desires by just clicking on their smartphones.

“The difference between the physical shopping cart and the online cart is that in the store, shoppers walk down the aisle, see a product at arm’s length, it’s $2 and they choose to buy it. There is a very low barrier,” said Jennifer Silverberg, CEO of CPG ecommerce technology suite SmartCommerce, according to the eMarket report. “To replicate that online, CPG companies have to make it easier to get a product into the cart, and hit shoppers at exactly the right moment.”

Citing a January 2017 survey by, eMarketer notes that 68 percent of US consumers said their primary location for making impulse buys was “in person in a store.”

Digital connections still don’t do it for most people, as just 21 percent of those surveyed said they bought impulsively on a desktop/laptop, and just 10 percent did so primarily via smartphone or tablet.

The Loyalty Equation

In the end, figuring the meaning of “personalization” is one key area that can help brick-and-mortar brands stave off competition from strictly online channels. In a general sense, personalization policies indicate letting consumers shop digitally and pick up physically.

Winning against e-commerce also means ensuring that loyalty/rewards programs are geared towards anticipating consumers needs even before they make a final decisions.

GameStop provides a clue to how a consistently evolving loyalty program can help stores remain relevant.

Thanks to Big Data and the personalized marketing powered by those analytics, the ideas of that slogan has become more concrete for retailers like GameStop, which operates 7,000 stores across North America, Europe, and Australia, and has attracted 50 million loyalty members across 13 countries.

Among the ways analytics has informed its loyalty program is to look beyond offering a direct value exchange in the form of discounts, said Mike Mauler, EVP and president of GameStop International, in a presentation at last month’s NRF17 Big Show.

“The more places the customer interacts with us on, the more revenue per customer we see and the more engagement we realize,” Mauler said at the NRF conference. “The true power of our loyalty program is not the points or perks. We don’t find that consumers come into a GameStop to get points.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.