Shoppers are Better Informed than Store Associates: Study
This holiday season’s shoppers were better connected to consumer information than in-store associates driven, said more than half (55 percent) of those retailers surveyed by Motorola Solutions for its annual holiday study.
This connectivity was driven by increasing availability of online shopping tools and mobile phone applications that allow price comparisons, access to coupons, and social-networking. The survey also found that those retailers that don’t invest in technology to stay ahead of increasingly tech-savvy shoppers are hurting their own bottom line. Nearly three in 10 (28 percent) store visits ended with an average of $132 unspent due to abandoned purchases driven by deal-habituated behavior, out-of-stocks, limited store associate assistance, and long check-out processes, the study found.
“Retailers have put their associates at a significant disadvantage to connected consumers with the majority citing that shoppers are better connected than their in-store associates,” said Frank Riso, senior director of retail solutions, Motorola . “With 87 percent of surveyed retail associates noting that shoppers can easily find a better deal, offering the best customer experience is more important than ever. Retailers need to arm their mobile associates with access to real-time information to level the shopping playing field.”
On a positive note, the survey indicates that when surveyed shoppers received guidance from a retail associate armed with a handheld mobile computer, over four in 10 (43 percent) reported that the information that came from the device improved their shopping experience.
“Home Depot recently deployed 30,000 Motorola MC75s across our 1,970 stores,” said Cara Kinzey, SVP of IT, Home Depot. “Our DIY and professional customers come to Home Depot not only for our products, but for the knowledge and high level of customer service that we've provided over the years. Equipping our associates with devices that allow them to check inventory, provide product information, print labels, communicate with other associates and even check-out customers with debit or credit cards from anywhere in the store, not only makes us more efficient, but also enables us to take our customer service to the next level.”
Here are some additional findings from the study:
- 85 percent of surveyed retail associates agreed that improving in-store communication between staff and managers would have a significant effect on customer satisfaction.
- 34 percent of surveyed retail managers cited frustration when alerted they need to replenish stock after getting complaints, instead of knowing ahead of time.
- 55 percent of losses due to out-of-stocks could very likely be recovered with store associate interventions; specifically, when store associates have the capability to track down the item and offer a solution, most customers will complete their purchase with that retailer.
- 68 percent of surveyed retail associates would find the capability to scan barcodes to check inventory and availability of items requested by customers helpful in a small mobile device form factor that is deployed to every associate.
- 28 percent of store visits ended with an average of $132 unspent due to abandoned purchases driven by deal-habituated behavior, out-of-stocks, limited store associate assistance and long check-out processes.
- Shoppers with smartphones used their device to influence 39 percent of their walk-out incidents; 12 percent checked prices at other retailers online, 8 percent checked availability at other stores.
- Nearly 25 percent of surveyed shoppers said they would be very likely to take advantage of a sales associate using a handheld payment terminal to complete their purchase, compared to only 9 percent who would be very likely to use their own mobile phone to scan their items and process payment without assistance.
The research involved surveys were completed online from December 2 through December 17. Two complimentary surveys were fielded, one targeted to shoppers and one targeted to in-store associates or staff. Each survey was designed to reveal the experiences and attitudes that each group has toward the use of certain in-store technologies to enhance customer satisfaction.