Technology and online shopping have not dissipated the classic “say-do gap” in the customer experience, according to a new study from the IBM Institute for Business Value.

The report, “Shoppers disrupted: Retailing through the noise,” reveals IBM’s analysis of 110,000-plus responses to global surveys from 2011-2014 “to reveal how the speed and intensity of customers’ changing attitudes and behaviors translate into must-haves for retailers.”

One of the stated “must-haves” is online shopping, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to real-life behavioral exhibition of that interest. “With consumers switching seamlessly from online to the store, it might appear that retailers have finally struck the right balance, but IBM’s study identifies a significant gap between what shoppers want from retailers and what they are getting today,” said Sarah Diamond, GM of  IBM Global Business Services, in a release. Specifically, IBM’s analysis revealed that 43% of consumers said they prefer to shop online, while only 29% actually made their most recent purchase online.

“Retailers may not be doing enough to meet consumer expectations shaped by digital experiences outside of retail—from location-based services to preference-based apps,” said Diamond. For instance, “Shoppers’ tolerance for out-of-stocks is dwindling as they perceive a ‘low out-of-stock world’ from their online experiences,” reports the study. And 46% of respondents this yearIBM customer experience said it’s important that retail employees use mobile devices to fix an out-of-stock issue, up from 40% last year. Said Diamond: “The good news is that this gap also indicates the potential of growth for retailers who can meet those consumer expectations.”

Other interesting findings from the analysis show trends in the online customer experience:

  • 60% of shoppers said it’s important to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to the store
  • 48% want on-demand, personalized promotions while online, and 44% want the same in the store
  • 48% value initiating a personalized communication with a retailer when online—44% want on-demand communication when in-store
  • 36% prefer delivery of online purchases this year (over store purchase and pickup), up from 23% in 2011


























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