While the world and the retail industry have been rocked by the market disruption resulting from Covid-19, shoppers’ basic motivations haven’t changed. Shoppers still expect the items that they want to be readily available at the best value with transactions that are a breeze. Safety has become the new standard as shoppers demand a blending of the online and in-store experience. The pandemic exposed and amplified retailers’ existing challenges, but from crisis comes opportunity and retailers can meet the moment by delivering on shopper expectations with technology.
Zebra’s 13th annual shopper vision study surveyed over 5,000 shoppers, store associates and retail executives globally to gauge the attitudes, behaviors and expectations impacting both brick-and-mortar and online retail. The results, summarized in this first volume of the 2021 Shopper Vision Study, are a must-read for retail leaders seeking to turn insights into opportunities.
Shopping in-store or online is interchangeable to today's shopper. Motivations for channel choice now similar. Shoppers are savvy, and flexible. If they can’t get an item in-store, they’ll head online or vice-versa, leveraging both channels for the most basic of reasons: product availability, selection and price. Interestingly, the importance of instant gratification, the ability to "buy it now" for in-store and the availability of "free shipping" online, ranked lower this year, leveling shopper motivations for each channel.
Market Watch: A Catalyst for Change
Although shoppers’ continue to move to online and mobile, in-store shopping is still alive and necessary for retailers to provide a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Customers expect safe, convenient and integrated experiences from retailers wherever and however they shop. Retailers need to fully digitize and optimize to adapt to shoppers flexible shopping habits.While retailers may believe they’re delivering on shopper expectations, our survey reveals a disconnect. Shoppers are markedly less satisfied with retailers than retail executives believe.Pain points for shoppers from returns to out of stocks have increased. The omnichannel strain on retailers is showing as they struggle to meet the expectations of an on-demand world. As shoppers shift to a digital and safety-first mindset, retailers are moving to adopt innovative technology at a remarkable speed.
Six-in-ten retail executives say the pandemic accelerated technology spending plans.
The bottom line is that retailers who embrace and invest in these technologies will not only be positioned to meet shopper expectations for safety, efficiency and convenience, but to also close the trust gap that exists between shoppers and retail executives.
Shopper View: Recapture the Retail Fundamentals
The world of retail and shopping has been turned upside down. With it, overall shopper satisfaction has dipped year-over-year for both in-store and online shopping:
Fast, easy and flexible shopping–retail basics–drives shopper satisfaction. The pandemic has only increased these expectationsand shopper preferences.
Speed and Ease Top Shopper Preferences
- Over three-fourths want to get in and out of the store quickly
- Seventy-six percent prefer retailers that offer easy returns
- Nearly two-thirds prefer to shop with online retailers who have physical locations, +7pp year-over-year
A digital-and safety-first mindset
74% of shoppers report technology as a benefit, agreeing it helps retailers provide a safe, comfortable and convenient experience.
The future looks bright for self-service and contactless technology Shoppers using in-store solutions grows and shoppers indicate that they plan to continue their usage of self-checkout, cashless payment and personal shopping devices.
Channel Surfing: Shoppers Switch Between Clicks and Bricks
Shoppers have connected the lines between in-store and online activities with everything from click-and-collect and returning online purchases in-store to checking in-store inventory before heading in-store.
And, while shopping in-stores, shoppers bring the online world along through their smartphones in a big way.
Mobile moves up on shoppers’ lists
Mobile ordering–from smartphones and tablets–has experienced tremendous growth–especially grocery delivery apps. It's been key in helping to maintain social distancing and adherence to local guidelines. Shoppers express they are likely to keep using mobile ordering in the future, indicating it's a habit that's here to stay.
The best of both worlds
Retailers must combine the best of in-store and online retail to align with how their customers shop. This is underlined by shoppers’ purchasing and delivery preferences, where home delivery stands out as the top priority.
84% of shoppers are willing to pay for delivery speed, up 8% YoY.
What's in Store for Shoppers?
influenced customer sentiment making safety a high priority. While the majority
of shoppers surveyed (58%) prefer to shop in stores rather than online several
key shopper concerns have emerged.
Shopper in-store concerns:
• 67% surfaces are not sanitized/social exposure
• 60% Long wait times to enter store or check out
• 54% Lack of
self-checkouts lanes or contactless checkouts
• 51% Lack of contactless payment methods Shoppers' use of in-store tech has grown along with their concerns for safety and convenience.
Tech enabled associates: retail’s key to sustaining success
There’s no substitute for personal service—except personal service optimized by technology. It’s the key that keeps customers coming back again and again and it benefits associates too:
• 85% of associates say technology helps them provide a safe, comfortable and convenient experience for customers
• Associates cite checking price (56%) and inventory (52%) as the most important and valuable uses of technology
• 61% of associates view their employer more positively for providing them with mobile device and technology
Everyone agrees customers have better experiences when associates use the latest technology to assist them:
Technology Leads the Retailer Response to Shoppers
In pursuit of the hybrid retail models shoppers
expect, retail executives are pushing forward with a wide variety of
technologies to meet shopper demands for faster, safer and easier purchasing
More than 80% of retail executives view smart checkout, workforce software and prescriptive analytics as key emerging technologies, addressing:
• Ecommerce Surge–57% of shoppers placed an online order in the past three months
• Returns and Exchanges–more than one-fifth of shoppers return an item purchased online
• Associate workflows–57% of associates feel significantly challenged by these returns
How else will retailers look to technology to meet shoppers’ expectations for a seamless and safe experience?
Emerging information-based technologies top the list of priorities for retail executives over the next five years.
Smarter, Safer, Synchronized Retail
Smarter, Safer, Synchronized RetailShopping has changed forever and the entire experience has been transformed. You can bet that retail willcontinue to evolve and its future relies heavily on the types of technologies retailers will deploy to meet customers’ demands. The industry has progressed rapidly over the past few months, but shoppers are telling us that the fundamentals remain the same. Safety, seamless synchronized experiences, product availability and accurate pricing rank as the most important things to shoppers, but the ways retailers deliver them will change based on the latest innovations.
Shoppers value the basics of convenience, speed and product availability above all else regardless of if they’re shopping in-store or online
Shopper satisfaction across channels is declining. They want a seamless blend of in-store and online shopping across purchasing, deliveryand returns
- Empowering associates with technology will allow them to provide the basics shoppers expect, elevate the experience and close the trust gap
- Shoppers have grown increasingly comfortable using self-service technology to create a more convenient, frictionless and safe shopping experience
Source: Zebra Technologies