In preparation for the half-marathon that she intends to run in Toronto next year, Kerry is looking for a new pair of running shoes for endurance training. She researched various models online and is ready to pick up the footwear she has chosen at the local store that offers the best price.

As an experienced runner, Kerry knows precisely what features she wants in a running shoe, and after thorough research, she has landed on the Saucony Powergrid Triumph 10. And although she would never admit this to her running buddies, as a bright-shoe kind of gal, she is pleased with the shoe’s cheerful, two-toned color scheme. However, despite her certainty that she found the perfect shoe for her, she also knows that trying them on is critical to ensure that they suit her running needs.

When she arrives at the store, Kerry quickly spots the shoe she is looking for and asks a sales clerk for a pair of size 8. The sales clerk immediately starts explaining how different types of training have different demands on our bodies, information that Kerry already knows. Without noticing Kerry’s growing impatience, the sales clerk asks her about her running history, goals, past injuries, the type of training she does and what other types of shoes she already uses. At this point, Kerry starts to regret coming to the store and thinks she should have ordered the shoes online.

Like an increasing number of consumers who are empowered with information that they have gleaned from online sources, Kerry’s visit to the store is less about shopping and more about validating the choice she has already made before she even enters the door. Her expectations for an in-store purchase experience are high: She is looking for the same ease and timely service in physical stores that she gets from shopping online. Basically, she wants to shop on her own time and on her own terms.

Shoppers like Kerry appreciate the wider selection and the abundance of information she can gather online about the products she’s considering for purchase, but she still relishes the in-store experience because she needs to touch, see and try on the product in ways that she can’t do online.

Unfortunately, most retailers are still unable to meet the needs of their consumers by creating a shopping experience where online and offline intersect.

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