The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

Why The Store Simply Cannot Continue As A ‘Tech Free Zone’

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Despite the fact that the majority of consumers’ paths to purchase begin in the digital domain, most retail sales still conclude in stores in 2024. But without significant effort by retailers to improve the in-store shopping experience, this won’t be a given much longer.

Technology has permeated virtually every corner of modern living – except for stores. For consumers, retail stores have become one of the last tech-free zones they encounter.

As a result, we surveyed over 100 US-based retailers to uncover the challenges – and their plans – to bring stores up to speed. At the same time, we surveyed over 1,000 US-based shoppers to gain a true prospective of how that effort is progressing.

Nearly 3 out of 4 US-based shoppers say the way they shop stores has changed significantly in the past three years. This undoubtedly means technology, and unwise is the retailer who buries their head to avoid how quickly the modern landscape is changing. Shoppers are likely to encounter more tech-friendly options at their doctor’s office than they are at most retail stores, and are resolute in their message: they want the store experience to level up to the rest of their lives. Stores simply cannot continue to exist as “technology-free zones.”

The following are some of the key findings from this research:

  • Retailers are more optimistic about how much shoppers “love to browse stores” than consumers are (88% compared to 69% of consumers). This is a warning sign – while it may be good news that over 2/3rds of consumers still enjoy the store experience, 1/3 do not. That’s too big of a segment for retailers to ignore.
  • When asked about the value of accepting returns of online orders in stores, retailers are aglow with the possibilities: 61% see it as a high value opportunity to upsell or cross-sell additional merchandise. In reality, only 40% of shoppers say they look for a similar item. Forty three percent of consumers are even more forthright: “I simply return the item and walk out”.
  • When it comes to new technologies, retailers’ desire for new metrics to understand events in stores – particularly adverse events – continues to grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sixty-five percent ascribe high value to a store management portal that will alert them to a whole new host of next-gen KPIs. Retailers want to know what’s going on in stores.
  • However, retailers are not happy with many of the tech investments they’ve rolled into stores so far. Half of those who’ve implemented video solutions to track customers and employees are dissatisfied with their investment, and 46% are unhappy with their investment in POS exception-based reporting tools. A wave of new investment into stores appears imminent.
  • At the same time, retailers’ highest priorities for customer-facing tech in stores are not in line with what shoppers want most. While retailers turn their attention to next-gen solutions like hyper-localized assortments and targeted one-to-one marketing communications, shoppers say they are still falling down on basics like price, product, and knowing who their best customers are. They are demanding more competence at “the basics” than retailers demonstrate.

If you are interested in reading the full report, it is available for free to all here. Like every RSR report, it also includes  baseline recommendations all retailers can follow that result from the data we have found.


Newsletter Articles July 2, 2024
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