Consumers today are more knowledgeable than ever and have a lot of options available with them when it comes to shopping. Largely, their go-to option is that of online shopping, which apart from the obvious convenience in operations, offers consumers with an enhanced user experience and personalization. These consumers come to expect the same from the brick-and-mortar stores. For them, the whole point of going to a store is not just shopping, but a hell lot more.
Retailers understand this and for a while now have tried to match up with the ever-rising consumer expectations by providing them with an enhanced in-store experience. They have focused on increasing the shopper engagement of consumers inside the store by deliberating in-store personalization in many ways. In a nutshell, retailers have considered digitizing the physical retail store. The ones who have succeeded in matching the expectations of the customers are presently enjoying a definite advantage. The others have just not got it right.
The Modern Consumer-demands from the Physical Retail Store
Consumers expect just about the same flexibility, convenience and user-experience from physical retail, as they do from online. One of the things that customers expect from offline retail stores is the availability of discount prices on a more consistent and prolonged basis, just like online. There are various other things that they expect as well. As per a recent survey conducted by Capgemini Consulting,
- Customers want more delivery options from retail stores. 73% of consumers would love stores to provide the option of same day delivery of products purchased in store
- A massive 75% feel that they should have the facility of checking the availability of products before they visit the store
60% of consumers feel it’s important that they have a good social experience at the store with their friends or family. A further 57% of people also feel that there should be additional activities in-store. Thus, validating the importance of providing an enriched in-store experience from the retailers’ perspective.
Reasons behind Consumer disappointment
It will be fair to say that the retailers who are not quite being able to impress the consumers are getting it horribly wrong. The in-store experience that is provided by a lot of retailers leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of people rate the customer experience as poor and it’s not for the lack of reasons.
As per the survey by Capgemini, the primary reason of consumer frustration in-store is the excessive difficulty to compare products. Two out of three people feel frustrated because of long checkout-queues. As many as 65% of the people find it difficult to locate products in the store and feel that the promotional offers that they receive are not customized enough. This shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement with regards to the in-store personalization for customers. Almost just as many people feel that the reason for their frustration lies in the lack of guidance provided by the in-store associates. These are various areas where retailers should look to focus on as they try to match the modern-day consumer-expectation through the customer experience that they provide.
The Digitization of Retail stores – ‘Too Slow to be Steady’
The digitization of physical retail stores is surely lacking some much-needed impetus. Globally, 54% of retail executives believe that the entire process of digitization of their stores has been slow. There are several reasons that have led to this. Digitization is not just about providing the stores with an influx of modern-day technologies. Consumers need to find these technologies useful. That is the only way they will associate value with the in-store experience they receive. Retailers should look to understand what the consumers want and look to fulfill their needs accordingly.
Although finding the proper match by deploying the necessary technologies that meets consumer demands makes a difference, it does not completely provide the impetus that retail stores look for. There are a lot of other problems that retailers must take care of from time to time as well. The Capgemini Future of Retail Store Survey reveal the following:
- 43% of retail executives said that the inability to measure the return on investments is one of the primary reasons behind digitization efforts moving slowly.
- 40% of retail executives feel that the store managers and associates are just not doing enough and are below par when it comes to promoting the in-store digital initiatives. The same percentage of executives say that they are still laying the foundation for enabling in-store Wi-Fi, store data collection, etc.
Thus, we see that there are a lot of problems that is hovering over the digitization of the physical retail store. Retailers will have to devise methods to somehow up the ante and alter the pace at which digitization of stores is happening globally. At present, it is fair to say that retail stores are just meandering their way through to digitization.