Tag Archives: shopping experience

Customers want service not sci-fi from high street retailers


We all know the 2019 outlook for brick and mortar retail looks troubled and indeed it’s barely a month into the year and we’ve already seen Patisserie Valerie collapse into administration. Are we surprised? You only need to look at the makeup of the high street to see the extraordinary amount of competition facing a business like this coupled with the fact that the business hadn’t changed much since its launch. It needed to adapt and if brick and mortar retailers focus on aligning their strategies to current market conditions and take on board what customers say, a one size fits all decline isn’t inevitable.

We recently conducted a survey ‘Service, not Sci-Fi’ that looked at the reasons people were turning away from retailers but also how they might turn back. While cost cutting and staff consolidation might be the first response to disappointing figures, our survey showed this could have an immediate detrimental impact on sales. Our study found that 81% of UK shoppers felt that personal touch had disappeared from retail customer service in modern Britain. Almost a third (32%) blamed an over-reliance on technology for this decline. And half of those polled thought that companies in the UK use technology to save money, rather than improve customer experience.

Despite living in a world driven by technology, most people don’t want technology to sacrifice human opinion and experience. Only 30% said they would like to see ‘smart pricing’ initiatives adopted by retailers, where prices change in real time depending on demand, 22% would like to see smart mirrors that show a 360 view of themselves, 16% desire a VR changing room, while 14% want AR for visualise products at home and 9% seek a talking robotic assistant.

When asked what makes a great brick and mortar shopping experience, half of those polled said it was down to having good staff on the shop floor; staff that know the products (49%) and staff that go the extra mile (47%). Coupled with this, 61% of the nation would prefer to deal with someone face-to-face when complaining, while 59% liked a human interaction when enquiring or trying to find out more about a product and 73% wanted to see someone when being issued with a refund.

And back to the impact on the bottom line – a third of Brits say that the personal touch is more likely to encourage them make a repeat purchase, and more than a fifth (22%) 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%) 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 local retailers, with a quarter of Brits saying they miss shopping somewhere where people recognise them and 16% confessing to preferring talking through a purchase with someone in-store, while a quarter reveal that online shopping is less fun than buying something in a real shop. The convenience of a store’s location is also important according to 43% of respondents which means that retailers should consolidate their estates. Many will notice immediate effects. This only emphasises the need to carefully consider the experience provided in-store and whether their staff can deliver the expected experience.

With traditional retail under more pressure than ever and an astonishing 81% of people feeling that the personal touch has disappeared from shopping, businesses need to focus on their customer experience strategies to keep people coming back for more.

To read the article please visit The Drum.

To read more about our Service not Sci-fi research please visit the Gekko website.

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How important is digital and retail experience for brands?

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Now in its second year, new Shopper Tribes research from Gekko has found that fewer shoppers are researching products online before buying in-store, with numbers falling by 7% over the past year.

As buying behaviours become more complex, with consumers increasingly taking a multi-channel approach when purchasing goods, the relationship between the digital and retail experience is ever more important for brands.

Recent research conducted by Epson Europe  found that the majority of UK purchases are still made in-store, with 55% still visiting the high street when making considered purchases. However, the gap is closing, with online sales in the UK making up the largest share in Europe, 7% above the average.

The study also found that 20% of shoppers used mobile devices whilst in-store to make purchases online. Rather than purchase in retail, these shoppers preferred to use the high street to guide their online purchases.

With smartphones now in almost every pocket, shoppers are becoming more connected in-store, increasingly using their devices to compare prices on the shop floor.

Gekko identified that younger generations are also increasingly using social media to guide their shopping experience, with 14% of 18 to 35 year olds using Facebook to ‘check-in’ to stores, and 15% using social media to discuss products with friends.

While brand engagement over social media is far less prevalent among older generations, they are increasingly using online research to aid in their purchasing decisions, with 58% of those 55 and over making use of online research before making purchases in-store. Across the generations, the online experience, be that through social media or product research, is becoming more of an influence on shoppers in relation to those rewarding considered purchases.

Although fewer consumers on average are researching online before buying in-store, the importance of a omni-channel approach remains clear for brands. Although nearly half of sales are now made online, a figure which will likely increase, the primary motivation for consumers for shopping in-store remains: ‘the ability to see and touch the product’. This desire to engage in the brand experience is common with considered purchasing decisions associated with high ticket consumer electronics and luxury brands.

The benefits of the in-store experience can outweigh the convenience of shopping online. Brands need to combine their approach with seamless branding between online and in-store, streamlining the overall brand experience for consumers.

Matching online branding in-store can assist sales by improving product recall, and likewise employing brand ambassadors to guide consumers through the in-store journey can help convey the unique selling points of your products.

By using an integrated approach, brands can guide the shopper journey from ATL or online to in-store, converting shoppers into customers of your brand.

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