It signals the death of the checkout operator and the birth of the retail concierge. Tomorrow's shoppers want a faster grocery shopping experience with more in-store technology, and they want the store's staff deployment changed to improve customer service, according to research conducted by IGD for EDS.
The upcoming generation of impatient teens wants to be able to shop and go, with someone always on hand to pack their bags, load their cars, and even pick up the items they have forgotten, the research found.
Indeed, more than half (59%) of the consumers surveyed (13-19 year-olds) said they want little or no staff involvement in their shopping experience. Of this group, 66% would like to self-scan their purchases rather than wait in line to pay a checkout assistant. However, of those who still want human interaction, 57% want staff to pack their bags for them.
But, despite a strong acceptance of self-scanning, 40% still want human interaction while shopping - but they want staff to be deployed differently. The research found that, of those opting for continued staff involvement, improved customer service is required:
- 45% of teenagers want staff to take shopping to their cars;
- 41% want staff to get products they have forgotten while they are in line at the cash register
The need for speed
The need for speed noted in a generation brought up with high-speed internet access and mobile phones could, EDS suggests, be addressed by the introduction of additional in-store technologies.
Focus groups with 13-19 year-olds revealed that, in addition to self-scanning, teenagers are interested in other ways in which technology can speed up their shopping visit. While, 48% of teenagers looking for human interaction would like call buttons in aisles so they can call for staff to help them in their product selection, among those who want little or no staff involvement:
- 26% want automated shopping carts that direct them to their chosen items, with 16% calling for satellite navigation on shopping carts;
- 22% would like to see information terminals throughout the store;
- Teen shoppers also want a computer to create a shopping list based on previous shopping (17%), in-store promotions (13%), and preferred brands (12%).
According to EDS futurist Jeff Wacker, "Currently, a shopper is not influenced by IT until he or she pays at the cash register. With RFID chips, 'loyalty' bar-coded cards and shopping cart computers, IT could influence a shopper's overall experience by allowing immediate interaction - guiding the shopper by his or her personal influences."
Among the other key findings of the research:
- Despite the common preconception that teenagers and adults have different shopping habits and preferences, this research concludes that today's teenagers think like their parents. The views of adults and teenagers on most issues raised in the interviews and focus groups are closely aligned;
- Brand image is important to both adults and teenagers, but the research shows that teenagers are more influenced by advertising than their parents - 60% of teenagers believe that good advertising has an impact on brand image compared to 45% of adults. Half of teenagers (50%) and 35% of adults will go to a different store if the brand they want isn't available, which highlights the importance of ensuring that items are on the shelves;
- Despite the backlash against supermarkets and accusations that they are killing off smaller stores, people like the supermarket format: 62% prefer hypermarkets and just four percent favour the convenience store set up;
- In ten years' time, over three-quarters (79%) of us will be shopping in supermarkets for at least some of our groceries (32% of respondents say they will shop exclusively in supermarkets) with just three percent favouring specialist outlets such as butchers, bakers and greengrocers. 26% of teenagers said they will include specialists as part of their shopping repertoire;
- Even for supermarkets, convenience is still king. People put their preference for store choice down to convenience of location (60%), low prices (56%), variety of branded products on offer (48%) and good parking facilities (43%).
The full research report has been made available for download from the EDS web site - click here.