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By: Jeff Falk
Posted: November 18, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“Internet stores enjoy the paradigm-busting advantages of the web, like the ability to personalize deals to shoppers and offer on-the-spot price comparisons,” noted Brad Stone and Barrett Sheridan in The Retailer’s Clever Little Helper. “Offline retailers, by contrast, may never know anything about a shopper who walks in, pays for a single item, and walks out the door.

The authors maintain that “the ratio of people who visit a store and actually buy something is much higher in the real world than online.”

“The bulk of CPG sales still go through brick-and-mortar doors,” said Kevin Kells, national director, Consumer Packaged Goods Industry Team, Google, in a 2009 GCI interview.

And there’s good reason why. In its October 22, 201, Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping feature, the Chicago Tribune cites a California Institute of Technology study suggesting that online retail is not the most rewarding experience for consumers and merchants. The study showed that consumers found more value in—and would pay, on average, 50% more for—goods they could touch. The feature notes that associate professor Andrea Morales of Arizona State University, who researches consumer behavior and social psychology, believes that shoppers do feel more connected with products after touching them.

And that’s before even taking into account the impact of well-trained, engaged retail staff.