Shoppers are returning to shop in stores in similar numbers seen prior to the pandemic, further embracing self-serve habits as they increasingly use ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) technology in stores, allowing retail associates more time on the floor to help shoppers.
According to Zebra Technologies Corporation’s findings of its 15th Annual Global Shopper Study along with a suite of products for the Indian retail sector.
To support the operations of Indian retailers, Zebra has launched its new portfolio of solutions including the ET40/ET45 enterprise tablets, TC53/TC58 mobile computers, RFD40 UHF RFID sleds, PTT Express and ZQ120 plus mobile printers.
Gearing toward a mobile-first retail experience
While nearly 75 percent of shoppers globally (68 percent in APAC) say inflation has caused them to delay purchases, they are still returning to stores. However, most shoppers (76 percent globally, 68 percent in APAC) want to get in and out as quickly as possible. And they are willing to help make that happen with their growing affinity for self-serve technology.
Globally, shopper interactions across self-serve solutions continue to rise with nearly half of shoppers citing they have used self-checkouts, and almost four-in-10 used cashless payment methods. A similar trend is observed in India and other APAC markets whereby self-checkouts are used by 47 percent of shoppers, while 46 percent opt for cashless payment methods.
Forty-three percent of shoppers globally (50 percent in APAC) prefer paying with a mobile device or smartphone. Over half (50 percent globally, 48 percent in APAC) prefer self-checkout, while preference for a traditional check-out register staffed by a store associate has similarly declined (55 percent globally, 51 percent in APAC).
A majority of retailers believe staffed checkouts are becoming less necessary with automation technology. Around the world, nearly half are readying their stores, converting traditional check-out spaces to self-serve and contactless options. These sentiments are echoed in India along with other APAC markets as well – 79 percent of retailers view staffed checkouts as less necessary, while 53 percent have converted store space to self-serve areas and 52 percent are offering contactless options.
Consumers also continue to rely on their smartphones during shopping trips; this year’s usage indicates price sensitivity as over half of those surveyed are checking for sales, specials, or coupons (51 percent globally, 48 percent in APAC), aligning with a good majority of shoppers (68 percent globally, 67 percent in APAC) concerned about having to reduce spending to make ends meet.
Overall, shoppers are ready for technological advancements, with about eight-in-10 expecting retailers to have the latest technology.
Shoppers demand an ‘Everything Experience’
Consumers expect a seamless experience when they shop. Seven in 10 prefer shopping both in-store and online as well as favor online retailers that also offer brick-and-mortar locations. Convenience is king for fulfillment: most shoppers (75 percent globally, 73 percent in APAC) prefer the option to have items delivered and opt for retailers who offer in-store or curbside pick-up (64 percent both globally and in APAC). The same is true for reverse logistics: about eight-in-10 shoppers (80 percent globally, 77 percent in APAC) prioritize their spending with retailers that offer easy returns. Nearly half of surveyed retailers (49 percent both globally and in APAC) are converting space in their stores for order pick-up, supporting consumer fulfillment preferences. Mobile ordering continues to increase, with around eight-in-10 shoppers and nine-in-10 millennials using it, and around seven-in-10 shoppers wanting more retailers to offer such services.
“Shoppers don’t necessarily evaluate retail channels. Rather, they view it as one shopping experience however they shop. With e-commerce as today’s normal, channels have since converged and it is essential for retailers to ensure a seamless experience across their offline and online platforms. More importantly, they need to empower retail associates with the right technology to better perform their tasks, as the retail sector heads into the future of fulfillment,” said George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead for Retail and Healthcare, Zebra Technologies.
While 79 percent of global shoppers (76 percent in APAC) are concerned about inflationary price increases on everyday essentials, they are not necessarily leaving stores without the items they wanted due to price. Retail associates expressed out-of-stock complaints as their number one frustration (43 percent globally, 38 percent in APAC).
Globally, 76 percent of shoppers leave without the items they intended to purchase with 49 percent blaming it on out-of-stock. In India amongst other APAC markets, the share of shoppers that do not complete their intended purchase order is lower overall (64 percent), with reasons including out-of-stock products (44 percent) or having found better deals elsewhere (27 percent).
Retailers are aware of such reasons; 80 percent acknowledge the maintenance of real-time visibility for out-of-stocks as a significant challenge, needing better inventory management tools for accuracy and availability (79 percent globally, 84 percent in APAC).
Currently, nearly seven-in-10 shoppers are satisfied with help from retail associates, compared to only 37 percent in 2007. Generally, shoppers, retail associates, and retail decision-makers agree shoppers have a better experience when retail associates use the latest technology to assist them. But that is not the only benefit, particularly in the face of labor shortages: most surveyed retail associates (78 percent globally, 74 percent in APAC) and retail decision-makers (84 percent globally, 82 percent in APAC) agree that stores leveraging retail technology and mobile devices attract and retain more retail associates as well.
To further improve the shopping experience, more than eight-in-10 retailers surveyed aim to enable more retail associates or seasonal staff to help customers pick and fulfill online orders for the 2022 holiday season. This also addresses another challenge cited by three-quarters of surveyed retailers: improving online fulfillment efficiency (78 percent globally, 73 percent in APAC) and expense (77 percent globally, 71 percent in APAC).
“After many years of analyzing shoppers, retail associates, and retailers, one thing remains constant - retail continues to evolve rapidly. While integrating technology helps retailers keep up with customer expectations, reliance on retail associates is imperative to achieving long-term customer loyalty. It is important to empower retail associates with the right technologies and processes to handle evolving omnichannel operations. With the Indian shoppers’ base being one of the largest in the world, it is key that retailers embrace intelligent automation and double down on support for their retail associates to delight consumers and deliver on-demand effectively,” said Rajnish Gupta, Vice President, and Head, India and sub-continent region, Zebra Technologies.