3 in 4 Retailers See Improved In-Store Experience as Critical

motorola-future-of-retail-in-5-years-june2012.pngGiven the myriad of shopping options that consumers now have at their disposal, 75% of US retailers believe that developing a more engaging in-store customer experience is going to be critical to their business in the next 5 years, according to a Motorola Solutions survey released in June 2012. And with mobile having a significant impact on retail, a significant proportion expect to adapt by providing personalized product details, based on previous behavior, to a shopper’s smartphone.

In fact, retailers believe that 42% of sales will come from online, mobile, and social commerce sites in the next 5 years. This is not an outrageous projection, given the meteoric growth of e-commerce. According to recent comScore figures, retail e-commerce’s 17% year-over-year growth in Q1 marked the 10th consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and 6th consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates.

Tech Investment Mostly to Improve Customer Service

With retailers eying an improved retail experience, they will be investing in new technologies mainly to try and keep up their customer service as shopping channels proliferate: 51% will make their investments to improve their customer service. This aligns with results from an earlier Motorola Solutions survey, which found that among retailers who have or are planning to use mobile point of sale (POS) solutions, better customer service is by far their top goal.

Personalization Remains Elusive

Retailers appear to understand the need to customize the in-store experience to appeal to the modern shopper, yet a high proportion are unable to do so. Roughly three-quarters said they don’t know when a specific customer is in the store, and 85% cannot customize a store visit. Additionally, 89% are unable to connect customers’ activities online with what they do in the store today.

Once retailers address these issues, they should find happy customers: when it comes to personalization techniques used by retailers, customers prefer to be acknowledged in-store rather than via digital channels, at least when shopping for specialty products, per findings from a RIS News and Cognizant survey of US and Canadian shoppers released in June 2012.

Other Findings:

  • Per the Motorola Solutions survey, 2 in 5 retailers believe that the inability to find the item they came to purchase is a major source of customer dissatisfaction, second only to out-of-stock items. Indeed, according to the RIS News survey (see link above), shoppers said that products they want being out of stock is their most disliked experience when shopping in-store for both specialty items and consumables.
  • Although just 9% of surveyed retailers currently offer associate-manned mobile or portable POS, 18% expect to do so in the next 5 years. Similarly, while only 4% currently offer self-checkout on the customer’s own mobile device, 12% plan to offer this option in the next 5 years.
  • 37% of respondents do not currently have wireless available in-store. Just half expect that to be the situation in 2017.
  • 39% of retailers offer consumers the option to buy on mobile and ship to home, while 59% expect to do so by 2017. The proportion planning to offer the option buying on mobile and picking up in-store is double those currently offering that option (58% vs. 29%).

About the Data: Motorola conducted a blind web survey through a third party. The survey included 250 responses from US-based retail executives with a mix of retail presence that was primarily in the United States and Canada but did include other global regions. 44% of respondents have over 500 stores, and 30% had revenue of $5 billion or more.

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