Customers want to be left alone while shopping
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the IMS Results Count blog.
A new customer survey by HRC Retail Advisory reports some rather startling findings: 95 percent of shoppers want to be left alone while shopping.
Other findings in the survey:
- Seventy-six percent rated an in-store app with personal recommendations as important
- Customers prefer to get advice and purchasing ideas from friends, family and social media, particularly for apparel items
- Eighty-five percent prefer to check prices through a scanner or phone versus an associate
- Thirty percent wanted to be able to do a payment transaction with an associate anywhere in the store (à la Apple).
A clear takeaway from the survey is that customers now expect technology to be a major part of their store experience. Today’s customers are empowered by unprecedented access and information. They can literally shop anytime and everywhere, including on their smartphone while standing in the store aisle.
The survey suggests that the best investments retailers can make is in technology which: provides critical information, enables online shopping anywhere and automates the experience as much as possible, especially eliminating checkout wait lines.
It’s not a choice between technology and people. Retailers need to test what combination of solutions are relevant for their customers.
The same survey found that nearly 52 percent of all respondents say an in-store personal shopper who helps them choose products is important when shopping for technology items. And beyond Apple and Best Buy, REI and Ace Hardware represent other great examples of where customers value staff. While customers are increasingly channel agnostic and more comfortable using their smartphone as their portal, they call on staff who are trained to help and engage.
Far too many retailers are making assumptions or simply doubling down on what they know. More retailers need to ask their customers how to improve their experience. So many of these decisions regarding investments in people versus technology are measurable. When in doubt, retailers need to test what works best for their customers. Kudos to Macy’s for testing VR and technology in selling furniture in their stores. The stakes are simply too high to guess where to invest. Just ask Toys “R” Us.
- Do customers want help from associates or technology? – IMS Results Count
- New Survey Finds 95 Percent of Shoppers Want to Be Left Alone in Stores – HRC Retail Advisory
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should stores balance technology investments that enable associates versus those that enable shoppers? Do you expect the associate’s role to diminish as shoppers increasingly become channel agnostic, self-reliant and oriented to technology?