As retail continues to evolve in an ‘always on’ world, it is no secret that as consumers have become more digitally savvy and have learnt to expect more from the retail experience. Whether that is an enhanced online journey or more forward thinking in-store technology, they are expecting more from the shopping experience and they are expecting that same extra mile to be seamlessly implemented across all channels. We recently questioned 2,000 UK consumers about their shopping experiences and what frustrates them, along with the views of executives from 50 UK multi-channel retailers to see what retailers are already doing and/or planning to implement in order to satisfy a seemingly insatiable consumer demand.
Today’s shoppers expect a seamless service experience, they want it to be integrated and harmonised across all available channels. Two thirds of shoppers expect a consistent cross-channel shopping experience, yet only 22 percent are receiving this today. With 68 percent stating they also expect their online experience to be duplicated in store, and shockingly 70 percent still say they feel they know more about the products and services in store than the store associate. Is this really still acceptable?
Bridging the gap
Despite the clear consumer disconnect, a number of retailers do seem to be focused on ensuring they address this. 38 percent plan to improve the mobile/website experience and 40 percent are due to invest in tools to support customer-facing employees during 2017. All of which will be music to the consumers ears as more than half of the consumers asked stated that a seamless service capability is the main driver behind their loyalty to a retailer.
It’s clear to see that consumers have a set expectation of what their retail experience should look like and they are willing to place their loyalty on it. Now is the time for retailers to invest in technologies that keep them ahead of the curve and take the appropriate steps required to close the gap between customer expectation and reality, across all channels. And those who do, will be the ones that thrive throughout 2017.
Other points of interest
- 39 percent of consumers saw “being able to check stock availability” as the most important role of the store associate yet only 6 percent of retailers say they have an accurate inventory overview across all channels all of the time
- Retailers think “general customer service, being friendly, approachable and greeting customers” is the most important role of the store associate (64 percent)
- 41 percent of consumers stated “fast delivery” as a key reason they would stay loyal to a retailer
- Consumers consider “free delivery” as the most important fulfilment option a retailer should offer as part of their online service proposition (62 percent) and are happy to wait three days to receive products in this way
- “Ship from store” seems to be increasing in popularity with 56 percent of retailers already doing it and 36 percent planning to offer it as part of their future fulfilment strategy
To see the full report, click here.