Increasingly, customer preferences are shaping the services and choices that retailers are offering customers. Technology is, and will be, front and center of how retailers succeed or fail at differentiating themselves with customers.
Customer service in retail has improved, but not enough to meet customer demands. In fact, 44% of shoppers reported that they are not satisfied with staff availability and customer service, the 10th annual 2017 Global Shopper Study released by Zebra Technologies found. However, that number is much lower than it has been in the past. For example, in 2008, that figure was 63%.
“There is a high-level of frustration in the store, especially when customers are shopping for higher value items including consumer electronics,” said Tom Moore, industry lead, Retail & Hospitality Industry at Zebra Technologies. “Before buying, customers do online researched and so are informed. Often, they are more informed than store associates.”
Further, more than half said that store associate carrying the latest technology, such as handheld devices or tablets, improve customer experience. “Store associates who have devices are better to meet the needs of customers in terms of price or product information,” said Moore. “Shoppers see value when they are investing in technology to make staff more helpful to customers.”
Omnichannel is going from being a aspirational buzzword to a critical business strategy. “Customers expect a seamless experience whether they purchase online or in the store,” said Moore. “That hasn’t been the case, as retailers struggle with both operational and technology issues.”
It’s a problem worth solving since retailers that deliver a good “click and collect” experience where customers buy online and pick up in store, enjoy higher sales levels. In fact, some research suggests that a customer may routinely spend a factor of as much as six time more when they come into the store than if an order is purely online.
The key takeway is that shoppers want what they want when they want it. “Shoppers don’t care how they get it but do they get it when they want it and is it a cost-effective means for them to receive it,” Moore said.
The infographic below provides more details of the research. As we slide into the holiday season, retailers with the best technology-aided customer service will likely come out the winner.
— Hailey Lynne McKeefry, Editor in Chief, EBN