Myth-Busting: Study shows Canadian consumers still prefer bricks-and-mortar stores but … - Retail Council of Canada

Myth-Busting: Study shows Canadian consumers still prefer bricks-and-mortar stores but …

Bricks-and-mortar stores continue to capture most retail sales in every major category
Discount, grocery, and department stores are where more than 90 per cent of sales happen in the store


TORONTO – December 20, 2017
The death of retail stores is greatly exaggerated.
According to a recent study by Microsoft, Retail Council of Canada, and research tool WisePlum, that surveyed 5,000 Canadian consumers, bricks-and-mortar stores capture most of the retail sales in every major vertical. The report, From Omni-Channel to Frictionless Retail: Insights on Today’s Consumer With Advice and Tips for Retailers found that for discount, grocery and department stores, more than 90 per cent of sales occur in store.

The study showed that consumers like the physical retail store experience because it offers instant gratification with the ability to browse, compare prices, read flyers, touch product, and purchase.

“It is a mistake to assume the prevalent retail trend today will be the dominant factor tomorrow,” says Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. “Physical stores are still the overwhelming preference but consumers want a quick and convenient experience when they shop – no matter what channel they use.”

The study did show that online shopping is gaining ground, particularly with younger shoppers. While it is apparent that technology has forever changed consumer shopping patterns, speed and convenience are the differentiators in the competitive retail world. Price and brand are part of the equation but the research showed all consumers want a frictionless shopping experience regardless of channel.

Physical stores need to offer entertaining, exciting and engaging experiences that differentiate a retailer from an online-only competitor.

“Emerging technologies are going to draw consumers into stores and retailers need to change their one-time purchase mindset to one that builds experiences around the customer’s actual lives,” says Brisebois.

Creating the frictionless shopping experience
The path to purchase has never been more complex. The study showed that problems encountered with online transactions far exceed in-store purchases but this does not dissuade online consumers from referring friends to an online store versus a physical one.

A study by TurnTo and Ipsos suggests that digital content can influence up to 90 per cent of consumer’s purchasing decisions.

“For online retailers to continue to grow their market share, they will have to invest in their user experience,” says Paula Courtney, Product Owner and General Manager at WisePlum. “Our research found 34 per cent of Canadians would chose a different channel for repurchasing an item if their original channel choice wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. Building a good customer experience is critical if you want your customers to return.”

The study also showed customers initiate 2.7 activities on average before completing an in-store purchase. But line-ups, lack of staff and other inconveniences can easily frustrate a consumer looking for instant gratification.

Online experiences take longer with customers initiating an average of 3.4 activities such as price comparisons, reading reviews and comparing products before making a purchase.

The study clearly demonstrates retailers must strive to provide customers the ability to interact and shop across channels, creating a fluid and frictionless brand experience.

Shopping and Gender
The study showed men and women shop in similar channel patterns. However, men adopt new technology slightly earlier and shop slightly more in stores.

Women tend to use technology more often and shop online slightly more. When it comes to comparison shopping, women are the clear winners. The survey showed that women use their mobile devices while shopping to price check, compare products, read reviews and gather opinions significantly more than men.

“Retailers need more than another study that quotes facts and statistics about the Canadian consumer. From the beginning, it was our goal to provide not only a benchmark of the marketplace but also a tool that helps them answer the question – So what?”, says Dave Rodgerson, Retail Industry Lead for Microsoft Canada. “Working together, we have created thought leadership that will help Canadian retailers understand how to react and remain successful in this time of digital transformation.”

To read the white paper, please see: https://www.commercedetail.orgom-omnichannel-to-frictionless-retail


About the Study
This study is a collaboration between research tool WisePlum, Retail Council of Canada, and Microsoft. Conducted between August 15 and 31, 2017, the researchers surveyed 5,009 Canadian retail shoppers in every major retail vertical. To ensure the study was representative of the Canadian population, the researchers established regional and gender quotas. Gen Z (aged 18-21) was oversampled to allow a robust sample size for analysis. Data were weighted on age to allow for proper presentation in reporting.

About WisePlum
WisePlum®, a collaboration between LoyaltyOne and Verde Group, is a product created to answer one critical question: where should a retailer invest in the customer experience to increase top line revenue growth and market share. Through a software-as-a-service delivery model, WisePlum® provides retailers with customer experience insights that are financially quantified, benchmarked against the competition and delivered weekly for continuous market monitoring. LoyaltyOne, is a global leader in the design and implementation of coalition loyalty programs, customer analytics, and loyalty services. Verde Group is a preeminent provider of customer experience measurement and management strategy solutions.

About Microsoft Canada Inc.
Established in 1985, Microsoft Canada Inc. is the Canadian subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq “MSFT”) the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential. Microsoft Canada provides nationwide sales, marketing, consulting and local support services in both French and English. Headquartered in Mississauga, Microsoft Canada has nine regional offices across the country dedicated to empowering innovation, prosperity and security through great software – any time, any place and on any device. For more information on Microsoft
Canada, please visit

For more information about on how Microsoft can help accelerate digital transformation within retail, download our guide here:

About Retail Council of Canada
Retail is Canada’s largest employer with 2.1 million Canadians working in our industry, which annually generates over $73 billion in wages and employee benefits. Core retail sales (excluding vehicles and gasoline) were $353 billion in 2016.  Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of core retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit industry-funded association and represents small, medium and large retail business in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants.