In-store shopping will continue to drive revenue in 2016, but consumers will increasingly gravitate to retailers that deliver personalized service, according to new research from TimeTrade.
The growing disconnect between increasing customer expectations and current service offerings presents an opportunity for retailers who can tailor in-store shopping and provide a “concierge” experience.
To better understand customers’ current mindset, TimeTrade surveyed more than 5,000 consumers about shopping habits and perceptions and 100 senior retail executives about their plans with customer experience. Results showed that while the majority of consumers still favor in-store shopping, service expectations are quickly rising. The surveys also revealed a key disconnect for the coming year between customer perceptions and expectations and retailers’ focus. TimeTrade also surveyed consumers about sub-verticals in retail which include apparel, automoative, cosmetics, home furnishings, home improvement, jewelry, outdoor gear and wireless.
According to the survey, store traffic will be strong in 2016, with 72% of respondents planning to shop in-store as much as last year and 18% expecting to shop in-store even more than last year. However, the emergence of the on-demand economy – in which innovative brands like Uber instantly deliver personalized (and well-priced) goods and services – gives in-store shoppers more leverage and heightens their expectations.
Key findings of the report include:
- 52% of Uber users say they like it for its convenience; 49% choose it for cost
- Only 27% of consumers feel that big-name brands try to provide VIP-like service
- When shopping in-store, consumers most highly value “prompt service” (54%), “personalized experience” (30%) and “smart recommendations” (30%)
- Inability to find an available store associate is a top challenge for 73% of home furnishing shoppers and 75% of outdoor gear shoppers
- Lack of prompt assistance will drive the majority of consumers (85%) to leave a dressing room – and the store – and abandon their intended purchases
- Only 27% of consumers feel retailers provide a consistent customer experience across channels. In contrast, 51% of retailers believe they succeed in this area
- 51% of consumers said call centers provide the poorest customer experience, but only 5% of retailers named it a top priority for improvement in 2016
- 59% of respondents would like it if store associates knew the items in their online shopping carts, but only 24% of retailers currently have that ability; only 12% are looking to implement it within the next 18 months
- 59% of consumers would schedule an appointment with an associate if possible; for jewelry shoppers, that number rises to 83%
TimeTrade’s survey suggests that retailers are missing out on opportunities to deliver an elevated in-store experience that fits the lifestyle of today’s consumers. Retailers must focus on ensuring seamless connections between digital and traditional channels and on delivering prompt, personalized in-store service to meet rising expectations.
“Consumers’ increasing demand for concierge-like services is forcing retailers to improve the connection between digital and physical and put a greater focus on enhancing the in-store experience,” said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. “Stores will remain the top shopping channel in 2016, but omnichannel retail will play a key role in driving the changing shopping experience. Retailers must evolve their approach to meet the rising expectations of today’s digitally savvy and increasingly informed consumer.”
The full State of Retail Report 2016 can be accessed here