Article

Roland Grassberger
Roland Grassberger 19 September 2017

Despite technological investment, retailers continue to let down consumers

Older generations are disgruntled with the current in-store experience offering, but retailers can’t depend on younger demographics being satisfied either, our latest survey findings suggest.

Our research found that over half (55%) of consumers aged over 45 are more disappointed by out-of-stocks than any other bricks-and-mortar shortcoming, while 49% get frustrated by long checkout queues. It seems the industry’s focus on digital transformation (DX) has yet to impress younger consumers too as 70% claim to want their in-store and online retailing experiences to be more consistent.

Similarly, 41% of those aged over 45 said that they want their shopping journey to feel connected, so their purchase can continue across various channels, and more than half of under 45s agreed (52%). This demonstrates the continued importance of the physical store as part of shoppers’ buying journeys – no matter how old they are – albeit that they use bricks-and-mortar stores in very different ways.  For example, 62% of 16 - 44 year olds in the UK use the store as a source of inspiration, while older generations favour using the shop floor to touch and feel products before purchasing (82%), and so crave a more interactive and advisory experience.

As a result, retailers need to ensure that the experience they provide shoppers matches the needs of their target audience. For example, the store needs to not only inspire shoppers but also provide more practical facilities to ensure that all customers are receiving the experiences that they both expect and demand.

This means that retailers need to look to install engaging technology including; virtual shelf/endless aisle portfolios, interactive digital screens displaying targeted offers, and apps that digitally locate products in-store, while fun elements such as gamification can help to capture younger generations’ attention, merging the latest trends available in the store with experiential experience. In addition, equipping staff with tablets and smart watches will also help to ensure shoppers receive an informative and relevant service, which is both supportive and convenient – particularly key for older generations – helping to close the sale and maintain customer loyalty.

It is surprising to see that although the industry has recognised the need for digital transformation, the benefits are yet to filter down to the customer. This is perhaps because digital technology has traditionally been implemented piecemeal without full understanding of what kind of innovation is needed to deliver against shoppers’ expectations.

By recognising the current needs and demands of consumers, retailers will be better positioned to invest in the solutions and services that will best suit their visitors’ demographic. The latest smart store technology can combine existing digital investments to make them work harder together, providing a more seamless, convenient and practical experience as well as one that ensures the shop fulfils its role as a source of inspiration and enjoyment.  Through this implementation store staff can refocus on providing optimum and enhanced experiences over and above traditional store formats and brands can close the online/offline experience divide.

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