Commerce Trends

by Manhattan Associates

Research Findings: Are you aligned with what your customers want?

What’s changed in 2018? Not a lot. 60% of consumers still know more than the store associate. 

As digital transformation and the Amazon effect continue to impact every aspect of the retail arena, consumers have growing expectations around not only a brand’s ecommerce offering, but also the store environment and how the two channels integrate.

And whilst you might be bored of hearing it, our recent research highlighted that UK consumers are still receiving an underwhelming customer experience compared to their European counterparts when it comes to omni-channel, with less than half (46.4%) saying yes to enjoying a consistent experience when shopping in store or online with the same retailer.

What’s more, consumers still feel more informed than the store associates they buy from, with more than 60% of those surveyed still answering yes to knowing more than the store associate. This is also an interesting response considering 51% of the same consumers also said they felt the most important role of a store associate should be product knowledge.

However, it does appear that retailers are starting to take note, with many of them stating that their top priorities for this year are digitally related as they look to improve the website and/or mobile experience (50%), upgrade in-store technology (60%) and invest in tools to support customer facing employees (30%).

So, what does the consumer really want?

21% of consumers are still visiting the store to ask for advice but if the store then doesn’t have the item they require in stock, nearly half (49.65%) of UK consumers would either take action leading to a ‘no sale’ or ‘significantly reduced chance of a sale’. This is a huge area of loss for retailers and one that needs to be addressed.

And guess what, consumers don’t like paying for delivery. Why would they, when so many offer it for free. Nearly 30% of consumers don’t want to pay for delivery when they buy online or from a call centre, with 38% saying that next-day delivery was the most important delivery option for them. However, despite the demand from consumers, 32%  of retailers revealed they are still charging for delivery on every order.

Despite this, and the hype that same-day delivery has received, the research did show that same-day delivery isn’t quite as important to consumers just yet with only 11% of consumers stating this as the most important delivery option.

Loyalty still matters

Loyalty schemes came up as important to both retailers and consumers with 30% of retailers saying they believe this makes consumers loyal to their brand and 32% of consumers backing this up by saying loyalty schemes do indeed make them loyal to a brand. However, value for money still remains the driving force and the biggest percentage for both sets of respondents.

Conclusion

The reality is that consumers’ habits are not changing as quick as retailers think they are. Loyalty is still rewarded in exchange for the basics; product knowledge, guidance and a seamless and efficient experience across all channels. And as some players swoop way ahead of the curve, now is the time for retailers to invest in technologies that keep their customers happy and their businesses thriving. It isn’t all about a revolutionary service or a stand-out experience, a seamless, pleasant one will do. And the retailers that can effectively get these basics right will be the ones that not only survive the changing landscape, but thrive on both the high street and online.

The research by Manhattan Associates questioned 2,000 UK adults about their shopping experience and expectations. It also sought the views of executives from 50 UK multi-channel retailers about their organisation’s service and fulfilment capabilities. You can see the entire report and advice on how UK retailers can stay ahead of the customer expectation curve here .