Tag Archives: consumers

Consumers want ‘real people not robots’ from retailers

ert blog

A study launched this week by Gekko, a marketing agency, titled – ‘Service not Sci-fi’ reveals that UK shoppers would rather deal with real people not robots or artificial intelligence when it comes to shopping.

The study found that 81 per cent of UK shoppers claim the personal touch has disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain, with almost a third (32 per cent) blaming an over reliance on technology for this decline. And half of those polled think that companies in the UK are using technology to save money, rather than improve customer experience.

Despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want technology at the sacrifice of humans’ opinions and experience. Only 30 per cent said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, 22 per cent smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, 16 per cent a virtual reality changing room, 14 per cent augmented reality to help visualise products in the home and nine per cent a talking robot assistant.

When it comes to buying online, 43 per cent of UK shoppers have had their screen freeze while trying to make a purchase, so when asked what makes a great bricks and mortar shopping experience, 49 per cent of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor, staff that know the products (49 per cent) and staff that go the extra mile (47 per cent). Coupled with this, 61 per cent of the nation would prefer to deal face-to-face when complaining, 59 per cent when enquiring or trying to find out more about a product and 73 per cent when getting a refund.

And businesses take heed – a third of Brits say that the personal touch is more likely to make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22 per cent) claim they always spend more money in a shop if they are served by a good assistant, incrementally adding to sales. Over a third (34 per cent) of shoppers stated that a poor experience has driven them to buy from another retailer.

The research also highlights the impact of the decline of the local shop, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them, 16 per cent confessing they preferred the days when they could talk through a purchase with a someone in-store, and a quarter saying online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop. The convenience of a store’s location is also stated as important by 43 per cent of respondents, which means that as retailers consolidate their estates, many will notice the effects, further emphasising the need to carefully consider the experience being provided in-store and the staff needed to deliver the experience.

According to the research we waste almost an hour and a half a month interacting with automated technology, only for a human to have to step in and help. In addition, 47 per cent of shoppers have experienced self-service checkout failure that’s had to be rectified by a shop assistant.

In fact, more than three quarters (77 per cent) of UK shoppers admit they’d much rather use a checkout with a person on it, rather than taking the self-service option.

Daniel Todaro, MD of Gekko, said: “Everyone is talking about technology and innovation within retail, but our research clearly shows that what consumers really want is the human touch. With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81 per cent of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping, businesses need to focus on the customer experience in these tough trading times to help keep the high street alive.”

To read the full article visit ERTonline.

To find out more about our ‘Service not Sci-fi’ research please visit our Research page.

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Retailers, It’s time to be relevant to consumers

Retailer Blog Photo

What’s happening to the British High Street? It is facing record levels of store closures in the first half of 2018. According to research by PWC, on average, 14 stores a day, 4,400 in the first 6 months, are closing their doors with 85,000 jobs lost in the first 9 months of this year. The industries most affected by the closures are fashion and electrical stores. Not far behind them are pubs and restaurants. There are few brands that haven’t been affected with coffee Shops and ice cream parlours accounting to the small amount of store openings.

As a nation of shoppers, why are we turning our back on the high street?

It is predicated that due to the large amount of choice now in the consumer’s hands the way they shop will change. Online shopping is predicated to account for 25% of non-food sales by 2022 which is a 5% increase on what it is today. The consumer now has the ability to shop across a variety of platforms from the high street, e-commerce, m-commerce and social commerce.

The choice to shop this way will increase through generations that grew up with the internet at their fingertips coming of age, working and having disposable income to spend. The generation that grew up with ordering something in the evening and having it delivered to their door the next day may not see the attraction of the high street. As shops close their closest functioning high street might get further away and less appealing to travel to when after a few clicks their product is brought to their door. The impact of online is a self-fulfilling prophecy and once the heart of a community is gone, it’s very difficult to entice it back as many councils are finding Public Houses, Restaurants are also affected due to digitisation – if you can order Italian food to your door are you going to leave to go to a restaurant? In-Home Leisure – If you have a huge TV/Projector, top of the line speakers, streaming service are you going to pay £30 to go to the cinema? Or go to watch the Football in a pub? Supermarkets interestingly do not seem to be affected at the level, perhaps due to people buying their own food to cook at home in line with changing dietary trends and therefore becoming more conscious of eating out?

The impact of the changes being posed may be too late. So what’s being done?

The introduction of a review for all retailers in England with a rateable value of £51,000 or less, intended to cut their business rates bill by one third is a positive step realising an annual saving of up to £8,000 for up to 90% of all independent shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes.

In some locations this is perhaps too late when you consider the vacant properties on the diminishing high street. The PWC research highlights that London has the highest change between closures and openings with Wales having the lowest. The numbers might be big for London but when you consider the size of some of the high streets in Wales compared to those in London -22 shops could be the closure of a whole High Street.

It also does not help those retailers, multiple or independent, with a larger footprint. For stores which anchor the high street such as Debenhams, HoF, M&S etc. the reduction in business rates for these retailers by local authorities, delivers a longer term tangible wealth to the community.

“This government constantly refers to a ‘dividend’ for all, which is used entirely in the wrong context, as there’s no dividend for communities whose high street have already been decimated and resemble ghost towns.”

What can retailers do for themselves?

The industries that were least affected by the closures such as Ice cream parlours and coffee shops could be down to the public still enjoying the little pleasures in life. It could also be that the brands have realised that consumers are now looking for personalised experiences. Millennials seek out experiences and value experience over material items. Those retailers serving the Instagram generation are offering them locations, products and experiences that are picture worthy and have bragging rights. Acknowledging these trends and the new way people shop are perhaps the key differentiators that have kept them from closure and continue trading successfully.

Although the numbers, for many, paint a negative picture for considered purchases there is still time for them to turn it around. Our research has highlighted that over a third of shoppers still prefer to go to bricks and mortar shops to buy their technology. There are still consumers who want to feel and touch products before purchasing. They are also looking for advice from staff and an immersive experience which some retailers do recognise however sadly many do not and are destined to failure unless they acknowledge and change soon. The investment made in retail by many brands is treatment to this consumer desire.

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Can the In-Store Experience Complement Online Retail?

mall

With e-commerce growing at an exponential rate, the value of bricks and mortar is often overlooked. Yet, with 95% of all retail purchases worldwide still made in-store according to Deloitte, the high street and retail outlets are not the dying breed we’re sometimes led to believe. In-store purchases are projected to grow by over £190 million by 2018, so brands should be putting emphasis on improving the in-store experience to help customers make more informed purchasing decisions.

For brands to fully engage with consumers in-store they need a deeper understanding of the shopper journey as a whole. It’s about getting to grips with increasingly complex buying behaviours. With consumers using both online and in-store research to make purchasing decisions, particularly on considered ‘high ticket’ products, brands should be proactively using online data to enhance the customer experience in-store.

Getting the blend right

Researching products online whilst in-store, using smartphones and even smartwatches is becoming more common among consumers. As shoppers become increasingly more connected, 20% of shoppers measure high street prices online and purchase products via mobile devices in-store, according to research by Shopper Tribes. It’s clear that new technologies are having a significant impact on the retail experience.

To meet the ever-demanding needs of consumers, forward-thinking brands are increasingly using social media to engage with their target audience. Among 18 to 35 year olds, 14% are using Facebook to ‘check-in’ to stores and 15% use social platforms to discuss products with their peers. While social media is a popular way to engage with the younger generation, brands need to understand how to cater to every age group. For example, shoppers aged 55 and over prefer to use online research to help them make informed decisions when purchasing electronic goods in-store. In an evolving omnichannel landscape, a one size fits all approach will not work if brands seek to cater to consumers across the board.

Making it personal

While e-commerce is changing the way people shop, the average online shopping basket is broadly made up of smaller purchases. As such, when it comes to high ticket consumer and luxury brands, the high street remains the destination of choice for making a purchase. As shoppers, we will always be motivated by the ability to touch, feel and experience products before making considered purchases. Living in a digital world, the brand you desire to wear and use remains an expression of your identity and lifestyle. Having the opportunity to view products in-person rather than through a screen is a rewarding experience for shoppers.

Ultimately, the benefits of shopping in-store can outweigh the convenience of purchasing items online. However, for consumers to realise the unique selling points of the in-store retail experience, integrating an omnichannel approach is key. If consumers are researching products online, branding in-store should be streamlined to improve sales and product recall to enhance the customer journey. By using ATL advertising across digital platforms, including social media, brands can drive shoppers in store, leading to improved conversion rates and profitability long term.

Retail outlets and the high street can offer a sensory experience for shoppers that the virtual world struggles to compete with. It’s about building and enhancing this emotional connection with customers to make the in-store experience memorable and rewarding.

 

Read more at: http://performancein.com/news/2015/08/12/can-store-experience-complement-online-retail/

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Nostalgic Christmas ads might be a thing of the past

bear and hare banner

Another year brings another fanfare as mid-Autumn ads from the big brands are rolled out to entice consumers to spend big both in-store and online this Christmas.

Last year we had Debenhams highlighting its elegant clothing, M&S taking us down the rabbit hole, and of course – who can forget – John Lewis’ Bear and the Hare. Christmas ads inevitably form part of the national psyche in the run-up to the festive period, so it’s crucial that brands get it right. It’s a huge opportunity to connect with and reach consumers at a time when their attention turns to budgeting for Christmas.

The best Christmas ads can warm consumers to a brand by harnessing the emotional attachment many people have with the period. However, get it wrong and you risk being remembered for all the wrong reasons long after the decorations have come down. So what do I think we can expect this year?

Whilst it’s difficult to predict with certainty how brands will approach their ads each Christmas, it’s been noticeable that in the last couple of years there’s been brands that have played safe and brands that have pushed the boat out and taken risks.

In 2012, the likes of Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco played it safe with product-focused ads. By contrast, Morrisons and Asda ran extraordinarily similar ads which critics felt reinforced gender stereotypes about Mums doing all the work at Christmas. Asda’s alone prompted 620 complaints to the ASA.

Perhaps owing to this backlash, both Morrisons and Asda ran pared down ads in 2013, and it was Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s turn to run similarly themed campaigns. Both focused on family at Christmas time, and both were decidedly saccharine.

However in 2014, we’re facing a significantly more challenged retail market than even a year ago, and brands have to reflect this in their advertising campaigns.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), sales were down 0.8% in September 2014 compared with 2013 on a total basis. The BRC also recently announced that September showed an annual drop of 0.2% on the amount people spent on food.

Consumer confidence is high – Barclaycard said total spending on UK debit/credit cards rose 4.8% in September – it’s just that consumers will no longer tolerate feeling ripped off. They want the best deals and though a glitzy ad might entertain, it won’t necessarily be enough to get people in-store if the value or shopping experience isn’t worthwhile.

I therefore expect to see a little less glamour, perhaps fewer celebrities and a little more humility. John Lewis has already set this scene by apologising for the hype surrounding last year’s advert.

If the ads match the current retail climate, this could be the year for managing or resetting consumer expectations. With Tesco in freefall, grocery in general fighting a case for value against the disruptors of Aldi and Lidl, and more shoppers comparing prices online whilst in-store, it’s likely many Christmas ads will target cost-conscious shoppers.

It’s a tricky one for grocers like Sainsbury’s and Tesco to negotiate, as by continuing to slash prices to compete with the budget supermarkets, to many it may seem like they’ve knowingly overcharged for years. Something which is in direct contrast to John Lewis’ “Never knowingly undersold” tagline.

It seems likely that many brands will put the sentimental and nostalgic journeys they’ve taken us on over the past couple of Christmases to one side. Instead there will be a renewed focus placed on showing consumers they really do understand their needs when negotiating Christmas on a budget and have real value to offer all this festive period.

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