‘Tis the Season to be Frustrated

Dec 07, 2004

By George Anderson

It isn’t a secret list that only Santa knows, but a new study does spell out what shoppers would like to avoid when doing their holiday shopping this season.

According to a survey of 1,000 Americans, the consumer’s pet peeve list for holiday shopping includes long lines at the checkout, packed parking lots, lousy customer service and empty shelves.

The shopping equivalent of getting coal in your stocking for most of those surveyed was long waits in line. Sixty percent of shoppers said this gave them that old-time “bah, humbug” feeling.

Nearly one in three said that dealing with store employees with an attitude right out of Dr. Seuss made them wonder whether going the gift card route might not make more sense than trying to buy an item on a loved one’s list.

Most consumers, even with all their complaints, are not really looking to give up shopping for the holiday altogether, says the research. Instead, they’re looking for ways to improve the experience.

For many of those surveyed by IBM, that means putting them more in control of the shopping experience with some sort of “intelligent shopping assistant that could help them find items more easily.”

Twenty-eight percent of consumers wanted self-checkout devices, while one in four asked for in-store price scanners. Twenty-three percent wanted a way to connect to the Internet on their shopping cart.

“Shoppers are demanding improved product availability, immediate access to product comparisons, knowledgeable employees and speedy self-checkout. They also want choice and convenience as part of a richer shopping experience overall,” said Jan Jackman, general manager, Retail on Demand, IBM. “Fortunately, retailers are beginning to bring the Internet into the stores and are beginning to roll out emerging new technologies like the Shopping Buddy intelligent shopping cart, self-checkout, and in-store kiosks. These new technologies promise to help retailers address these frustrations while providing shoppers with greater flexibility, convenience and empowerment than ever before.”

Moderator’s Comment: How can (are) retailers using technology to address the complaints of consumers about the shopping experience?
George Anderson – Moderator

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