Customers recommend the higher-tech retailers
While the majority of consumers have yet to use new in-store and online retail technologies, 40% of those who have done so claim that they recommended the retailer as a direct result, according to the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel survey.
While some retail technology is still relatively new, consumers are starting to express a willingness to use it in a strategic way that enhances their shopping experience.
To assess how brands and consumers are interacting today, Empathica questioned survey participants about their use of retail technologies within Marketing (mobile coupons, online product research), In-Store Experience Enhancements (assisting personalised selection) and Checkout Conveniences (self-checkout, e-receipts).
When asked if they had gone into a store within the past year and experienced any of these new technologies, only 39% of respondents said that they had. Men were more likely to try a new retail technology (43%) than were women (34%), and these proportions were fairly consistent across age groups.
Of those who had tried a new retail technology, 40% indicated that they had recommended that retailer to friends and family as a direct result of trying the technology. Of those who said they had not experienced a new technology, 18% still recommended the brand based on noting that the technology was offered.
The technologies that most consumers have tried include:
- Self-checkout (86.3%);
- Online shopping (80.4%);
- Price check scanners (75.2%);
- Mobile phone features (44.0%).
Other recently introduced retail technologies such as virtual fitting rooms, barcode tags, and buttons to request fitting room service, were less commonly used.
Interestingly, 78% of consumers believe the supermarket and grocery store industry currently has the best implementation of technology in a way that enhances their experience with the brand. Furniture and housewares stores were perceived to have the least successful adoption of technology to improve the customer experience.
"While some retail technology is still relatively new, consumers are starting to express a willingness to use it in a strategic way that enhances their shopping experience," said Gary Edwards, executive vice president of client services for Empathica. "Check-out technologies that improve convenience have clearly been embraced by consumers compared to pure in-store experience enhancements. Nonetheless, no matter what the store technology, when it is adopted by consumers there appears to be a positive word of mouth marketing benefit to brands."
Additionally, some 33% of consumers indicated that in-store technology makes their shopping experience more productive, facilitating an easier purchase decision, and 25% also said it makes shopping more enjoyable.
When asked specifically about mobile phone features that would aid them in shopping, 44% of consumers said that receiving mobile coupons prior to shopping, as well as price/feature comparisons, would be most beneficial. Other features such as determining product availability, self-service options and product ordering, were of lower priority. Consumers were decisive in their preference for receiving notification of upcoming sales or promotions, with 80% citing email as their favoured channel.
A surprising 21% of respondents indicated their willingness to allow selected companies to track their in-store location using their mobile device in order to access additional coupons, sales promotions, or product suggestions. However, consumer willingness dropped nearly 8 percentage points should that mobile tracking take place outside the store perimeter.
"It's clear that the 'customer is king' concept applies to adoption of technology," concluded Edwards. "While the majority of consumers want to be able to track deals and coupons from retailers, comparatively few will allow retailers to track them even if doing so is positioned as being in the consumers' best interest. Clearly, privacy and freedom from harassment are still paramount in most consumers' minds."