Zebra Technologies has released the findings of its 14th Annual Global Shopper Study, and it provides some intriguing insights into post-pandemic retail.
The findings show that digital enablement of stores, together with seamless fulfilment and returns, empowered store associates, inventory management and mobile are all key for retailers as consumer demands and expectations continue to rise exponentially. But perhaps one of the most illuminating findings from the study is the level of trust, or rather the lack of it, which consumers now have in retailers. Only 38% of shoppers indicated a complete trust in them.
A great experience is central, of that we knew, but it isn’t confined to physical stores, whichever touchpoint, from social media to online to stores – all are key to success but according to the findings of the study, the physical experience is perhaps the most important. And this should come as no surprise, because physical embraces all our senses, and as psychologists will tell us, the memory of the experience is more important than the experience itself.
To improve this level of trust, retail decision-makers are increasingly embracing solutions that elevate the contributions of front-line staff and improve how inventory is planned and executed in stores and the broader supply chain.
However, despite this, although two-thirds of shoppers plan to return to brick-and-mortar locations in the coming months, most (73%) want to get in and out of stores quickly. Sixty-five percent are still worried about exposure to others, and not as many trust retailers to adhere to health and safety mandates or protocols in stores as they did in 2020. Some shoppers don’t even want to go in a store to make a purchase.
Everything Connected To Everything
In part to combat this and for convenience, according to the study, about one-third of consumers say they use their mobile devices to lookup competitive prices or browse online websites for products during shopping trips. More than 70% confirm they have recently left stores without all the items they wanted, with nearly half citing out-of-stocks as the reason for not making an in-store purchase.
Consequently, 58% of shoppers say it’s faster to lookup information on their smartphones than ask associates for help, and the majority of associates (64%) agree, leaving retailers unaware of when in-store customers are contemplating m-commerce purchases, possibly with competitors. More than 25% of surveyed shoppers have placed click-and-collect m-commerce orders while out shopping, with some even completing mobile orders for home delivery.
“Consumers appreciate the convenience of click-and-collect and home delivery options, especially as retailers have added new fulfilment options and incentivized m-commerce transactions,” said Bill Inzeo, Global Retail Technology Strategist, Zebra Technologies. “Many retailers have adjusted processes to account for the popularity of these new retail experiences, and their perspective on the importance of technology is changing.”
More than 25% of surveyed shoppers have placed click-and-collect m-commerce orders while out shopping, with some even completing mobile orders for home delivery
With retail channels blending more than ever, over three-quarters of decision-makers say increasing the efficiency of online order processing and fulfilment is a priority. Nearly nine-in-10 decision-makers confirm their company is now looking at ways to improve in-store pick and pack as well as warehouse fulfilment. Over one-third of decision-makers are now converting store space into designated pickup and returns locations, which could help divert traffic away from a central customer service desk.
“Even a single out-of-stock could drive an in-store customer to abandon their entire cart on the spot if they can place a mobile pickup order elsewhere and get everything they need,” explained Inzeo. “Therefore, associates need to be equipped with mobile devices and applications that enable them to help shoppers complete their in-store purchases using alternative fulfilment options.”
Above all, this latest annual global shopper study from Zebra Technologies should serve as a wake-up call for all retailers. In our everyday lives, we expect everything to be connected to everything and for this to work seamlessly; and not unsurprisingly, we carry these expectations over into retail.
Those retailers who understand and act upon this are those most likely to succeed, but there’s no guarantee. Never has it been as critical as now for retailers to think like their customers. Putting the customer first just took on a whole new meaning.