A study from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and KPMG LLP, the professional services firm, finds that consumers have definite views on what they are looking for in the ideal shopping experience - both online and in-store - and more complex technologies are not at the top of the wish list.

The findings are revealed in the IU/KPMG study, "Creating the Ideal Shopping Experience: What Consumers Want in the Physical and Virtual Store," conducted among 2,120 people nationwide in June, 2000. The research measures consumers' acceptance of technology and offers insights on how consumers want to shop.

The IU/KPMG shopping study found that when shopping online consumers insist on having accurate product and pricing information, convenient and secure ordering, order tracking, reliable delivery and accessible customer service. In retail stores, shoppers want knowledgeable and courteous sales help, competitive prices, fast checkout and convenient payment options.

The study also reveals several shopping features that some consumers would prefer not to have. Consumers have the strongest negative reactions to options that intrude on their personal privacy or increase the complexity of shopping. For example 21 percent of shoppers dislike having a handheld scanner tell them which products match their personal profile and 16 percent object to having a salesperson look up their purchase history in order to make shopping suggestions. As well, 36 percent of respondents prefer not to have in-store prices that change daily based on stock levels and competition.

"Consumers tell us they are not interested in technology for its own sake," says Dr. Raymond Burke, the E. W. Kelley Professor of Business Administration at Indiana University. "People want the basics in their ideal shopping experience and they are only interested in technology to the extent that it makes shopping faster, easier, and more economical."

Mark Larson, national partner-in-charge of KPMG's retail practice adds, "Today's consumers have more choice than ever before - in stores, brands, and channels. That's why retailers need to consistently deliver the right value proposition to their customers across all shopping channels. Technology can be a very helpful tool in that process but to create value successful retailers will know how and when to use it in the shopping process."

The Online Shopping Experience: Give Us Product Information and the Human Connection

Consumers say there are several must haves in the online shopping experience. In addition to knowing the prices of products sold online, 64 percent want to know the prices at the closest retail store. Online shoppers also want access to product specifications and warranty information (57 percent). When shopping online, 57 percent of respondents feel that a Web site should have expert ratings of product quality. As well, the overwhelming majority of Web shoppers said they must have toll-free telephone access to customer service (79 percent) and 63 percent want the option of placing an online order by calling a toll-free number.

"Consumers place greater emphasis on having detailed, objective product information when shopping online because they have no physical interaction with the product," says Dr. Burke. "The fact that such a high percentage of online shoppers want toll-free access to customer service tells us that the ability to connect with a knowledgeable sales person, regardless of the channel shopped, is a key element of the ideal shopping experience."

The In-Store Shopping Experience: Customer service , price and selection key attributes

When shopping in-store, 53 percent of consumers say that the store must provide knowledgeable, helpful sales assistants and 52 percent report that stores must have in-person or telephone customer service.

However, the study reveals that consumers do have an interest in several in-store technology applications. Much of this technology is focused on delivering pricing information. Fifty-five percent of shoppers feel that retailers must or should provide electronic shelf labels that are always accurate and current; 57 percent want electronic signs displaying daily and hourly promotions, 61 percent want kiosks providing electronic coupons, and 63 percent would like handheld scanners that can perform price checks. People are also enthusiastic about technologies that allow them to shop from a greater selection of products and order items that are sold out. Fifty-five percent of shoppers would like to use kiosks to order out-of-stock items, while 52 percent would like to use handheld scanners to check colors/styles/sizes and place orders from an extended inventory.

"Clearly, consumers' desire for knowledgeable sales help is an issue for retailers," says Larson.

"Today's tight labor market is impacting the retail industry's ability to deliver on this critical component of the ideal shopping experience. As the IU/KPMG study points out, savvy retailers will recognize that the right technology can help deliver on customers' needs especially when it comes to pricing and product information."

Multi-Channel Integration: Research online, purchase in store

The IU/KPMG study reveals that a majority of consumers want to use multiple channels when
shopping. More than three-fourths (82 percent) prefer to use more than one channel to learn about new products, 77 percent to search for product information, 74 percent to compare and evaluate alternatives and 63 percent to purchase and pay for products.

Fifty-nine percent of consumers would like the option of receiving merchandise through the mail or a store visit and 39 percent would like to be able to return products through both channels.

Consumers are far less interested in using multiple channels when shopping for frequently purchased good such as groceries, and health and beauty care products.

In order to learn about new products, consumers have an almost equal preference for a retail store (76 percent) and the Internet (74 percent). Consumers prefer to visit a retail store to purchase and pay for merchandise (91 percent) and return unsatisfactory items (89 percent). On the other hand, they are most enthusiastic about using the Internet to search for product information (90 percent) and compare and evaluate alternatives (83 percent).

Larson says, "Successful retailers in the future will be those that are focused on their customers and are able to deliver the best shopping experience in both the physical and virtual store. Our survey has found that it is not technology per se, but how it is used to create value for customers, that will help retailers in their efforts to capture the purchasing power of consumers."

Other key IU/KPMG findings concerning retail technology:
  • Seventy-six percent of consumers want click-and-mortar retailers to provide online information on a local store's inventory.


  • Over half of consumers surveyed (53 percent) felt that retailers with click-and-mortar operations should provide them with the ability to place a 24-hour courtesy hold on products in local stores.


  • Technology applications are rated highest when they make shopping more convenient or provide much needed product information.
KPMG LLP, the accounting, tax and consulting firm, is the link between business and technology, providing objective business advice of uncommon clarity that helps clients achieve market-leading results. KPMG LLP is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International. KPMG International's member firms have more than 103,000 professionals, including 7,000 partners, in 159 countries. KPMG's Web site is http://www.us.kpmg.com. KPMG Consulting, LLC is a leading provider of Internet integration services and can be found on the Web at http://www.kpmgconsulting.com or reached through the firm's site.

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, among the premier schools of business, offers a wide variety of programs for undergraduate and graduate study. Located in Bloomington, Indiana, the Kelley School is home to the Center for Education and Research in Retailing, on the Web at http://www.kelley.iu.edu/retail. The Center is a leader in the application of technology to retail education and research through the Sears Learning Lab. The Kelley School is also host to the Customer Interface Lab, a state-of-the-art facility for investigating how consumers interact with new retailing technologies.