The best retailer to shop at in a shopping mall or at a flea market doesn’t always have the best products.
That’s the finding of a new paper by two economists at the University of Toronto and the University, and the headline of an article in the journal Consumer Behavior.
“We found that many retailers have lower-quality online and offline shopping experiences than those they serve,” the authors wrote.
In other words, retailers who don’t have a strong online presence can’t compete with online retailers who do.
In some ways, that is a relief.
“It would have been a nightmare to have a store in every mall,” says John Meehan, a professor at the U of T’s School of Business and a co-author of the paper.
But it’s not a total relief.
Online retailers have the potential to lower the cost of buying and selling.
The researchers say they are not suggesting that retailers should start selling online.
Rather, they suggest that online retailers should be more mindful of the customer experience.
“Online retailers should take into account the customer’s expectations and give more attention to the needs of their online audience,” they wrote.
A better solution?
“This is an area where retailers could potentially make their mark by offering better experiences online and in-store,” says the authors.
“We have to have an awareness of what customers want, how to deliver it and what they need to do to get it,” says Meegan.
“But we need to be mindful that the best customer experience comes from a store with a strong, long-term relationship with its customer.”
Mall owners should also be thinking about the possibility of creating new online shopping experiences for their store and its customers,” they added.