As the National Retail Federation stages its annual conference in New York this week, it’s worth noting that “disruption” has been ongoing in this sector for the past decade.
In order to accommodate this changing consumer behavior, retailers deployed strategies and built new business models to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping experiences. In fact, a new industry report on the state of consumer shopping finds that retailers who offer a better technology experience are more likely to gain repeat shoppers.
The new State of Mobility in Retail report, “From ‘Bricks to Clicks’: Navigating the Retail Revolution,”commissioned by SOTI Inc.,in partnership with Arlington Research,looked at global consumer shopping habits in the U.S., UK, Germany and Sweden. The research revealed that American shoppers are more excited and open to technology that improves the overall shopping and retail experience.
Creating a Personalized Shopping Experience
U.S. shoppers crave a personalized shopping experience, more so than any other country in the study. However, when it comes to keeping personal data secure, the results found that this is important for consumers across the board.
“As we enter 2020, retailers need to strike a delicate balance between innovation and privacy,” says Ryan Webber, Vice President of Enterprise Mobility, SOTI.“Through this research, American consumers are more bullish than their European peers when it comes to personalization, but at the same time, all crave security. As retailers begin to stretch the limits of what’s possible, and test facial recognition technology and other IoT shopping solutions, privacy must remain in the forefront.”
When it comes to creating a more personalized shopping experience and using technology to tailor the experience, nearly half of Americans (48.1%) are excited about innovations, such as facial recognition and beacon technology.
Voice-activated shopping is another area where U.S. consumers are notably more comfortable than their international counterparts. Half of U.S. shoppers are “very comfortable” shopping via voice-activated assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Farewell Cash Register
Seventy-eight percent of U.S. consumers believe that retailers that implement mobile technology for both consumers (self-service) and sales associates to use, enable a faster shopping experience – from the ability to discover new products to self-checkout.
Checkout is a pain point that consumers believe technology has improved. Nearly half (45%) of U.S. consumers indicated that they prefer sales associates to use mobile devices that allow for checkout on the sales floor over the traditional cash register. When looking at this from a global perspective, Sweden shares a similar sentiment.
When it comes to purchasing products, while mobile payments have been around for years, U.S. consumers still prefer traditional payment methods like credit and debit cards (52.7%), cash (22.6 %) to mobile/alternative payment apps such as Apple Pay (10.6%) and wearable payment methods like smartwatches (4.7%), which are still emerging technologies.
U.S. is More Receptive to New Forms
With online retail sales projected to surpass $740 billion in 2023, technological innovations when it comes to delivery is of equal importance to the in-store experience. Overall, the U.S. is more comfortable using alternative delivery options for goods. However, compared to SOTI’s findings in 2019, U.S. consumers have yet to change their sentiment year-over-year.
“Innovation in delivery is business-critical for retailers that want to effectively compete in the retail landscape that merges online and offline buying,” says Webber.“Whether it’s the ability to transparently track packages, reduce delivery times or improve last-mile delivery, we continue to remain excited about how mobility can support transportation and logistics to ultimately convert into increased customer loyalty and sales.”
In an exclusive interview, with Supply Chain Management Review– a sister publication – Shash Anand, Vice President of Product Strategy at SOTI Inc.made the following observations about the impact these new trends will have on attracting fresh talent to the retail workforce:
Incorporating mobile and IoT technologies into the retail environment will allow employees to perform their jobs more efficiently while driving higher levels of job satisfaction. Key findings from the State of Mobility in Retail Report, From ‘Bricks to Clicks’: Navigating the Retail Revolution, demonstrate a link between better technological experiences in-store and higher levels of customer loyalty, providing more opportunity for sales associates to nurture customer relationships which can boost employee morale. Digitizing the in-store experience allows retail employees to shift their focus to provide more personalized customer experiences that genuinely set them apart, which helps retailers differentiate from the competition two-fold. Equipping sales associates with mobile devices, provides customers the flexibility to pay for their purchases on the sales floor, for example, allowing customers to get in and out of the store quickly without having to wait in a long checkout line. Self-checkout and scan-as-you-shop technology also gives customers more choice to suit various preferences, enhancing speed and personalization of the shopping experience.
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