According to Navigating the New Digital Divide, a report from consulting firm Deloitte Digital based on a survey of over 3,000 US consumers, digital interactions are expected to influence 64 cents of every dollar spent in retail stores by the end of 2015, up from 14 cents in 2012.
Deloitte Digital defines "digital influence" as the percentage of traditional brick-and-mortar retail sales impacted by shoppers' use of digital devices.
"Retailers often use the wrong metric – e-commerce sales – to indicate whether their digital strategy is working," said Kasey Lobaugh, Deloitte Digital's chief retail innovation officer.
"Last year, e-commerce sales represented $300bn, or just 7%, of total retail sales," he continued, "while digitally-influenced store sales were over five times higher, topping $1.7tr."
The research further suggested that over the past five years the top 25 established retailers had lost 2% of their combined market share – equivalent to $64bn – while smaller players entering the market with digital at their core have multiplied.
"We are seeing a real change in the competitive dynamics, with digital as the great equalizer," said Lobaugh.
The research also highlighted the changing nature of digital influence, as consumers used their mobiles more but were less concerned to carry out price comparisons. They were in fact 30% less likely to perform price comparisons in-store than they were a year ago.
At the same time, the influence of smartphones alone on in-store sales rose from 19% to 28% as consumers used this device more often for inspiration and idea generation.
Another important discovery was that digitally-influenced consumers buy more and spend more.
Consumers who used digital while shopping converted at a 20% rate compared to those who do not use such devices. And consumers who accessed social media during the shopping process were found to be four times more likely to spend more.
Social media also affected the timing of purchases – more than a quarter (29%) of those surveyed were more likely to make a purchase the same day they turned to social media before or during their shopping trip.
Data sourced from Deloitte; additional content by Warc staff