For retailers running brick-and-mortar locations, there’s good news for 2016: Most consumers don’t plan to decrease how often they shop in-store. But that comes with a catch: Those same shoppers will be on the lookout for a more personalized shopping experience, and they’re likely to gravitate to brands catering to these specific needs.
According to TimeTrade’s “State of Retail 2016” report, 72 percent of shoppers will visit physical stores as much in the coming year as they did in 2015. Instead of leaning more heavily on online shopping, those consumers are expected to seek different services and innovations that offer a better in-store experience — and something distinct from what online retail stores can offer.
Specifically, shoppers are most interested in “prompt and speedy service.” Fifty-four percent of respondents to the report’s survey cited expedient service as a top value for in-store shopping, and a whopping 85 percent said that poor service from sales associates would cause them to abandon a potential purchase.
Meanwhile, a personalized experience and smart recommendations for products were cited as high-value services by 30 percent of shoppers.
Adapting To A Growing Concierge Economy
Several of TimeTrade’s findings speak to the way technology has transformed consumer expectations. The report cites a growing “Concierge Economy” as a critical focus for retailers seeking a better in-store experience.
In particular, the report indicates that consumers want better service from brick-and-mortar sales associates. Fifty-nine percent of consumers said they would schedule an appointment with a retail associate, if possible, with some industries seeing that figure rise to 83 percent.
Consumers also want physical stores to offer a better omni-channel experience. Fifty-nine percent would prefer that sales associates know the items in their online shopping carts, yet only 24 percent of retailers currently have that technology in place.
Only 12 percent plan to implement this technology within the next 18 months, which means this sort of tech-enabled sales experience will continue to be a consumer pain point — and a prime opportunity for retailers.
Online retail and mobile technology have already given consumers a taste of luxury. Uber offers curb-side pickup, online stores offer smart recommendations based on shopping histories, and retail websites provide quick service and easy access to product information. Many physical stores have adapted in the same way, but assisted selling technologies and other sales floor tools are making such innovations possible.
The question is which retailers will take the lead and embrace these new opportuities. One thing we already know: Consumers will be watching.
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