Ninety-five percent of consumers want to be left alone while shopping unless they need a store associate’s help, according to a new consumer survey by HRC Retail Advisory, a strategic retail advisory firm.
According to the survey, many shoppers are moving away from the hands-on, personalized service from store associates, and instead turning to their friends and family via social media to share pictures and gather opinions before they buy, particularly in apparel.
To better understand what drives shoppers into stores, and what they like to see when they get there, HRC recently polled 2,900 North American consumers about their shopping habits and preferences, revealing that a majority of shoppers are looking to in-store technology for customer service.
In fact, approximately 85 percent of consumers surveyed want to be able to check prices at price scanners throughout a store rather than having to ask a sales associate for pricing information. Further, 69 percent of shoppers said that being able to order a technology product online and then pick it up in store is important (likely where they can see it and test it before buying), with a similar 65 percent saying it is important for apparel.
“Retailers must adapt to shopper expectations”
Conversely, while the need for store associates is diminishing overall, nearly 52 percent of all respondents said that an in-store personal shopper who helps them choose products is important when shopping for technology items. However, most respondents still preferred technology over personal service, as a much higher 76 percent of overall respondents rated an in-store app that will provide personal recommendations as important.
“As consumers begin favoring in-store technology over sales associates while they shop, retailers must adapt to shopper expectations in the store environment,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC Retail Advisory. “Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits.”
Consumers surveyed showed less enthusiasm about several of the popular technology innovations and in-store experiences that many retailers are offering:
Dressing Room Tech Technology in apparel-store dressing rooms that assists with shopping was deemed important by only 17 percent of those surveyed. And only 6 percent of respondents ranked customized lighting in dressing rooms as important when shopping for apparel and shoes.
Mobile Payments Mobile payments ranked only slightly higher, with about 8 percent of those polled saying that having the option to pay via a mobile app was important to them.
In-Store Events Only 19 percent of overall respondents said that retailers’ special events designed to create communities were an important part of a store’s offering, particularly when shopping for apparel and beauty products. Events may grow in importance in years to come, however, as a slightly higher 24 percent of Generation Z listed them as an important store feature.
Across all consumers surveyed, in-store environment ranked as the most important factor while shopping (53 percent). The survey identified additional key environmental factors that shoppers also value in-store:
Mobile Promotions & Sales Nearly 34 percent of all respondents ranked receiving promotional and sales information sent directly to their smartphone upon entering the store as important.
Mobile Point of Sale Nearly 30 percent of respondents said that being able to pay a sales associate from anywhere in the store was important, an indication that digital scanning technologies will play a growing role in retail.
Social Media Nearly 70 percent of Generation Z and 63 percent of Millennial respondents are turning to social media to share pictures and gather opinions from their friends and family before they buy, particularly in apparel.
Wi-Fi Free in-store Wi-Fi was ranked as important by 30 percent of respondents overall, and the rate was higher among younger generations, who tend to seek opinions from their social networks and share photos via social media when they shop.
In-Store Apps About 29 percent of overall respondents ranked in-store apps that would provide personal recommendations as an important store feature, versus only 17 percent who ranked sales associates that would help you choose as important.
Reserve online, Pickup in-Store Being able to reserve apparel online, and try it on in-store before purchasing was ranked as important for 42 percent of Millennials, and 38 percent for Generation Z.