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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : January 25, 2016

Retailers beware - consumers have set in-store experience bar even higher for 2016

A new survey from online appointment scheduling company TimeTrade reveals a widening disconnect between what services are currently being offered instore and what consumers expect.

by Helen Leggatt

TimeTrade's survey of more than 5,400 shoppers and 100 senior retail executives found that almost three-quarters (72%) of consumers in the U.S. plan to shop in-store this year as much as they did in 2015. However, they're expecting more from retailers and want a faster and more personalized shopping experience.

The experience that most (54%) demand is a prompt and speedy experience - as much as 85% of respondents said lack of prompt service, such as needing a sales associate to get them another dress size while trying on clothes, would lead them to abandon an intended purchase and leave the store.

Also important to in-store shoppers is a personalized experience (30%) and smart recommendations (30%).

However, while just 27% of shoppers believe brick-and-mortar retailers currently provide a consistent customer experience across channels, more than half (51%) believe they have been successful in this respect. Similarly, while 51% of consumers say that call centers provide the worst customer experience, just 5% of retailers believe this to be a top priority for improvement this year.

"In order for retailers to stay relevant, they must bear in mind that today's leading companies are meeting consumers' basic need for help in a timely, affordable manner," writes Sarah Wallace, Principal Market Analyst for TimeTrade, on the company blog. "Companies such as Uber are providing this help at consumers' fingertips and have set the stage for the On-Demand/Concierge Economy."

Other key findings include:

- 59% of consumers would schedule an appointment with an associate if possible rising to 83% among jewelry shoppers;

- Just 27% of consumers feel that big-name brands try to provide VIP-like service;

- 59% would like it if store associates knew the items in their online shopping carts, but only 24% of retailers currently have that ability and only 12% are looking to implement it within the next 18 months;

- Inability to find an available store associate is a top challenge for 73% of home furnishing shoppers and 75% of outdoor gear shoppers.

"Consumers' increasing demand for concierge-like services is forcing retailers to improve the connection between digital and physical and put a greater focus on enhancing the in-store experience," said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: customer service, personalization, retail, survey

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