The customer is always right and expects service – traditional and digital. When making a purchase in a traditional retail outlet, consumers have a multiplicity of supporting services available. Traditional services, such as expert advice or a clearly structured product range, are expected by many customers as a basic provision.

With the aim of gaining new customers and expanding existing customer relations, retailers are increasingly supplementing their existing service portfolio with new, digital services, which support customers in their various purchasing stages.

Let’s see some aspects to keep in mind for improving our business according to a recent study made by the Cologne Institute of Retail Research (IFH Köln):

Traditional services still in demand – digital services forging ahead. A clearly structured product range and personal advice are the traditional services of most importance for consumers, even in an age of digitalisation – and here precisely lies the strength of the bricks-and-mortar trade as opposed to online selling. Consumers aged 50 and above, in particular, place great weight on traditional services such as advice and product presentation, but also on product information to take away, prior ordering or reservations, and gift-wrapping services. Digital services, such as an online availability check or orders in case of non-availability, are likewise relevant to consumers. For the bricks-and mortar trade, they represent an excellent opportunity to raise the frequency of customer visits and the proportion of sales effected in the shop.

Men as target group: particular affinity to digital services. Men show greater interest in digital, technology-based services, such as code-scanning for information, payment using their own smartphone, or digitalisation of check-out slips. Services to aid inspiration, emotioncatching services, and customer-loyalty schemes, on the other hand, score better among women and include, for instance, a clearly structured product presentation, or loyalty points. The bricks-and-mortar trade should therefore regard gender-specific services as a further opportunity for positioning themselves and demarcating themselves from their competitors.


Customers with high purchasing power: score points by providing advice. High-income consumers value such services as expert advice, prior ordering and reservations. Small to medium-sized traditional retailers, who are particularly strong on personal services, can exploit this potential and can gain and retain new customers with high purchasing power.