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What Customers Want

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RIS/Cognizant’s Shopper Experience Study conducts research every year on what the retail customer wants and what happens when they don’t get it. This year over 5,000 shoppers were surveyed. Why do we spend so much time talking about shopper experience? Because it’s what makes the current retail scene tick, and if the physical store is to survive, retailers need to not only know, but also need to implement these things—from the corporate level to the selling floor.

The retail landscape has obviously transformed from what it was five years ago. Still, while 80% of consumers still shop in-store, the study notes five areas that are crucial in developing and maintaining a personal relationship with customers. It’s also important to note that all shopping channels need to converge in order to determine how, when and where engagement and transactions take place:

*The Customer’s Digital Experience:

Shopping begins online. From researching product and prices, that’s where it all starts. 4% of consumers said they buy online at least once a month; and 13% make weekly purchases. (While the study doesn’t indicate where these weekly purchases are made, from my own personal, informal surveys, I’ll bet Amazon comes up frequently here.)

For these folks, product selection, availability, price and easy checkout are a few of the reasons consumers prefer online shopping. 55% of respondents also indicated they use their smartphones to comparison shop.

*Buy Online; Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)

Many retailers have implemented this over the last several years, to their customers’ advantage. Of the over 30% of consumers who use BOPIS, 65% buy additional items when they pick up their orders, but more than 60% reported a disconnect or service failure at pickup. This occurs from store associates who lacked training to complete the transaction, and incorrect or damaged items. What a missed opportunity! It shows that I.T. and the store need to work hand-in-hand to develop a seamless solution that necessitates store associates continue experiences that were initiated online.

*Loyalty Programs That Make a Difference

A greater discount once in a while doesn’t cut it. What constituted strong loyalty programs were point rewards per dollar; automatic discounts; status achieved to accrue benefits; and special offers based on buying history. 32% of consumers said the best loyalty programs are better than “lowest price” when deciding where to buy, and providing an incentive will result in almost 50% of shoppers promoting your store on social media to earn more rewards.

*Privacy and Security That Ensure Trust

26% of shoppers said “security of personal data” was one of the top three influencers that determined where they shop. Violating that trust proved deadly for retailers, with one in five shoppers admitting they wouldn’t shop at a store where their personal information was breached.

*The Shopping Experience In the Store

The study cites that the biggest opportunity to increase sales begins with the store associate. All the money in the world that’s thrown into technology, infrastructure and the supply chain goes out the window if the in-store experience is poor or below expectations. It’s true that while customer expectations have risen, there’s no reason they can’t be met, and this doesn’t require technological know-how. The two most requested improvements are associates who are knowledgeable and can match prices. While shoppers use technology to research online before heading to the store, once they get to the store, they’re ready to buy, so your staff needs to have the proper training and be equipped and empowered so they can engage customers and seal the deal.

Being able to create emotional connections with shoppers throughout your retail organization using technology, processes and your staff may be the biggest hurdle to jump, but also creates the biggest opportunity for success.

TAGS: omni-channel, retail, retail trends,
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