||Why Interactive Retail is a MUST for Today's Tech-Savvy Shopper
Technology has changed consumers' view of in-store shopping. Online shopping and mobile access to information via smartphones allow consumers to determine -- prior to setting foot in a store -- the product they want, at the price they want, from a store with the biggest variety.
Today's shopper looks for a new, more convenient, informative and engaging in-store experience; one providing all the benefits of online shopping, with the primary advantages to shopping in person, the ability to touch and try the desired product and leave the store with it in hand.
Buying confidence is greatly affected by technology: 60 percent of shoppers rated online reviews as more important than in-store employees, traditional media and social networking.
Savvy customers prefer researching products online rather than speaking with store staff and 51 percent of shoppers said consumer-written online reviews are influential towards purchasing a certain product.
Interactive retail can bring together the best of "brick and mortar" and online to deliver a truly engaging customer experience.
Customers know more than salespeople
With more consumers becoming empowered with pre-purchase information through online resources, salespeople are often at a disadvantage as their customers become more knowledgeable about the prospective product.
Meanwhile, retailers try to hire the best sales people available, but face common challenges related to training and retention.
In-store smartphone research influenced 39 percent of walk-outs:
- 55 percent of retailers believe shoppers are better connected to information than store associates
- 87 percent of retailers agree consumers using online shopping tools and price-comparison apps can easily find better deals
Shoppers have more information:
- 12 percent went online to check other retailers' prices
- 8 percent checked product availability at other retailers' stores
- A 2010 study showed 49 percent of shoppers used two or more (online, mobile or in-store kiosk) technologies to shop, a 36 percent increase over 2009
Shoppers have better information:
- 39 percent of consumers read eight or more reviews (versus 22 percent in 2007)
- 50 percent say a lack of reviews degrades trust in a product; 38 percent say a lack of negative reviews degrades their trust
- 57 percent of consumers consult online reviews and peer recommendations prior to buying electronics
- 41 percent are more likely to share negative product experiences online via Twitter or by writing a review
This data points to a serious need among mobile retailers to better equip their salespeople and stores with additional technology and information.
By allowing shared access to product and rate plan information in-store, wireless retail staff can use interactive technology, like touchscreen kiosks, to guide shoppers through the purchasing steps -- presenting a familiar interface that brings elements of online and mobile shopping experiences directly in-store.
Operationally, retailers use these interactive terminals to equip salespeople with the same information that shoppers have. They train staff on products, increase sales effectiveness, boost productivity and commissions, and ultimately improve retention.
Bridging the gap between online and brick-and mortar retail
Because shoppers seek an informative, engaging and efficient buying experience, a combination of technology and service is the best approach to grab their attention and keep them browsing in-store.
This is especially true of mobile phone shoppers. In spite of being able to research product prices on the web, they still need to visit a physical store to try out the device.
A 2010 Accenture survey found that customers prefer to buy mobile devices in-store, while retailers can effectively upsell and cross-sell, as well as teach customers how to use the available products and services. Retailers must "introduce technologies such as interactive digital displays, video assistants, social networking technologies and Wi-Fi networks that enable shoppers to remain connected with trusted people and information while they are in the store."
Comparing Good and Bad Mobile Phone Shopping Experiences
Good experiences give customers what they want... quickly.
A 2009 study conducted by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania found that great shopping experiences are characterized by five elements:
- Engagement: Being polite, genuinely caring and demonstrating sincere interest while helping and listening
- Execution: Patient explanation and advice, checking stock, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality
- Brand Experience: Exciting store design, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they're special and that they always "get a deal"
- Expediting: Being sensitive to customers' time and long checkout lines, and being proactive in helping speed up the shopping process
- Problem Recovery: Helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete shopper satisfaction
Identifying negative shopping experiences
To create the ultimate in-store experience, retailers must also examine errors with the current process. Surveys found negative phone shopping experiences to include:
Long waits for help
28 percent of walk-outs ended with an average of $132 unspent due to out-of-stocks, limited salesperson assistance and long check-out processes.
Over 50 percent of associates said they had little time to help customers because of pressure to complete other tasks.
Retailers have yet to invest in technology that meets the price-comparison needs of tech-savvy shoppers.
Limited selection/out of stocks
34 percent of retail managers cited frustration when notified of an out of stock item after getting complaints, instead of knowing ahead of time.
In the end, wireless retailers must offer a convenient and engaging in-store experience. It's really about giving customers the product they want, while providing the pleasant shopping experience they demand.
(Source: Chris Krywulak, CEO of iQmetrix, in WirelessWeek, 06/22/11)
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