While shopping satisfaction has improved over the last decade, retailers must accelerate the pace of change or risk losing sales and market share. Consumers equipped with smartphones expect fast, convenient, information-rich and connected shopping experiences that are uniquely relevant to them in store, online and via their mobile devices. According to Zebra Technologies’ 2018 Shopper Study, one-third of shoppers are still not satisfied with the in-store shopping experience
Today’s consumer is now informed by the ease of online shopping and accessing the world’s biggest, round-the-clock store at their fingertips. They’ve become less tolerant of longtime retail pain points that fail to meet their on-demand shopping needs. At the same time, consumers are increasingly channel agnostic and demand an easy, fast, seamless buying experience, no matter if they’re buying online, via a mobile device, in store or using some combination of the three:
PERSONALIZED SHOPPER EXPERIENCE
Increasingly, consumers expect retailers to offer solutions such as store staff equipped with mobile computers to locate missing inventory, provide options like free home delivery of out-of-stock items, and expedite checkout, the study found. They are also looking to retailers to add curation, inspiration and customization to the multichannel shopping experience that transforms the customer-retailer dynamic from merely transactional to service-driven and personalized. Shoppers value assisted-selling technologies that record consumers’ purchase history to deliver customized product offers and tailored discounts, for example.
DELIVERY BECOMES CRUCIAL
Shoppers are demanding a variety of faster product delivery options, but many aren’t willing to pay for speedier service. More than half of shoppers surveyed plan to increase their usage of buy in store, ship from store to home delivery and expect next-day and same-day delivery options. In response, forward-thinking retailers are scrambling to meet these heightened demands by rolling out perks such as reserve online, pick up in store and curbside pickup.
TRACKING THE RISING DEMANDS OF THE CONNECTED SHOPPER
Retailers are catching up to the connected consumer, whose smartphones serve as in-store shopping tools that help them compare prices and consult customer reviews. Merchants are recognizing that shoppers increasingly crave comparable convenience in store. A look back at the shopper study findings over the past 10 years reveals that shoppers’ in-store satisfaction has increased somewhat. However, consumers – particularly Millennials – feel they are better connected to product infomation than sales associates
SHOPPERS WANT QUICK, FRICTION-FREE PRODUCT SEARCH AND PURCHASE
For one, you can’t sell what’s not in store. The study found that 36% of specialty apparel and fashion retail shoppers cited the primary reason for leaving the store without the article they wanted was because they didn’t like the selection and 34% were dissatisfied with the displays. Meanwhile, 30% and 26% of grocery/supermarket and specialty apparel shoppers, respectively, said they left a store if the product they wanted was out of stock.
When faced with out-of-stock inventory in store, consumers want retailers to step in with immediate solutions, and see technology as the answer. More than half of shoppers believe technology is critical to improving the shopping experience. Consumers surveyed said that while shopping, they most value staff armed with a mobile device to access information on in-store product availability and price, and offer services such home delivery to an out-of-stock item. As a result, smart retailers are empowering front-line associates with mobile computers and tablets that make it easy to conduct inventory and price checks, scan coupons and communicate across the sales floor and the stockroom without ever having to leave the customer’s side. They are also working behind the scenes to reduce out of stocks and boost inventory accuracy to better locate merchandise, whether it’s in a warehouse, in the stockroom or on the sales floor.
ENRICHING THE IN-STORE EXPERIENCE
It’s a business imperative amid store traffic declines. In-store trips are becoming increasingly purpose-driven. As proof of how consumers plot their buying strategies, 35% of shoppers purchased only the items they set out to buy before arriving at the store, the study found. For retailers, that means shorter stays and fewer impulse buys
To counter the shortfall and increase the amount of time shoppers spend in store, retailers are adding immersive, interactive and customized shopping elements to the retail experience that bring new services, customized offerings, entertainment and even consumer education to the purchasing equation.
These services range from upgrades such as sales associates who have been trained as product specialists to offer shoppers concierge-like, in-store guidance on merchandise; in-store apparel tailoring; on-site cafes and eateries; fitting-room technology that enables the shopper to select items to try on from the fitting room; in-store parties; and even classes ranging from beauty and exercise to cooking.