“No one has figured that out yet. Understanding the nature of my intent.”
A recent survey of 1,000 North American consumers by software-as-a-solution provider iVend Retail said that 92% of people use multiple channels when shopping.
According to iVend’s Great Omnichannel Expectations 2016-2017 Shopper Survey Report, people want connected retail experiences from the start of the purchase journey, with 34% of shoppers choosing the most convenient option at that time.
“Our research findings point to consumers’ changing perception of the “store,” which now consists of all channels, not just a single, physical location,” said iVend. “It also reaffirms the relevance of brick-and-mortar retail, which continues to meet the real need among consumers to see, touch, and try firsthand before buying.”
As the lines between shopping experiences blur, people are taking advantage of Buy-Online-Pickup-In-Store (BOPIS) options, with 57.5% of shoppers choosing that path.
Shoppers cited a saving on shipping costs, convenience, ease-of-return and the ability to deal with a mistake in person as reasons why they went the BOPIS route. People did like to visit the store, 17.5% of shoppers said that completing the purchase in a physical location was important.
With that in mind, the in-store experience is a crucial part of the transaction.
A recent report by Deloitte said that 47% of consumers are happy with their overall treatment in a bricks-and-mortar location, and iVend’s report (almost) echoed these findings. Around 31.6% of people described in-store collection processes as “smooth” compared to the 66% of people who use the same word for online purchases.
Retailers can improve in-store experiences in a variety of ways. On a very basic level, customers want easy access to information without the need to approach a sales associate.
The report said that 36.9% of customers favored kiosks or digital help desks, for example. Free Wi-Fi was cited as a means to improve the physical experience by 46.4% of customers. A smaller proportion of shoppers wanted in-store offers sent to their smartphones when they entered the location—33.5% of said that this would influence purchasing decisions.
People Desire Relevant Shopping Experiences
Customers expect retailers to have a “total view” on all channels, iVend said. And data is the prime factor.
“The foundation is data,” said Linda Kirkpatrick, Mastercard executive vice president of merchants and acceptance, in an interview with ARC at NRF’s Big Show. “You need to use the data in order to figure out the personalized messages, how to customize the preferences, how to appeal to them in a social way and how to digitize the shopping journey.”
Around 66.4% of shoppers said that retailers should use collected data to provide offers that are relevant to an individual need or pertinent purchase information. The caveat is that the data is used appropriately by retailers and not as an excuse to bombard them with marketing materials.
“No one is doing omnichannel, or doing it well,” said Robin Copland, vice president retail, Americas, for ThoughtWorks. “Even though we have been talking about it for years. No one is able to connect what I am doing online for the past two weeks with their brand when I walk into the store even though I am a loyal customer and I could spend thousands of dollars. No one has figured that out yet. Understanding the nature of my intent.”
The report said customers considered it acceptable for retailers to track purchase histories (68.3%), online browsing (41%), and average spend (31%). On the flip side, people said that it was not okay for retailers to collect a mobile number (92%) or use location tracking via a smartphone (84%). In addition, 31.5% said it was fine for retailers to collect data but they expected something in return. Almost 12% of people said that data collection by retailers was unacceptable in every way.
“These numbers underscore the importance for retailers to have carefully planned data collection and data use policies, keeping in mind that consumers express an interest in “personalized” offers, but don’t want retailers to get “personal,” iVend said.
One crucial element for all retailers to consider is that customers are more informed about purchases than ever before.
The report said that 47% research a product online at least once, with 31.8% looking at that item more than once. Desktop is still the most popular means of research—54.6% of people use a PC or laptop. Mobile devices are playing a major role in product research; smartphones and tablets were used by 40.4% and 21.4% of people, respectively.
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Why The Customer Is Always King
Retailers should be aware that a final sale does not mean that the transaction is over.
Customer behavior after a purchase is made can provide retailers with a clear picture of what they did (or did not) do right. A full 36.5% of shoppers will research the item again to check if they got a good price, although 29.4 % of people said that they did that with the intention of returning the item and buying it cheaper elsewhere. Social media plays a minor role, with 19.6% of customers likely to post or tweet about a great experience.
“There is no doubt that change is continuing in retail, as technology available to consumers to continues to advance, their habits and preferences respond, and retail technology adapts and advances in response,” concluded the report. “Shoppers will always take the path of least resistance to a convenient, easy, competitively priced purchase to make shopping experiences as pleasant as possible—and they will gravitate toward retailers that deliver what they want.”