Zebra Technologies Corporationwhose offerings include mobile devices, robotics, imaging, location systems and fulfillment solutions, recently released the findings of its 15th Annual Global Shopper Study which confirms that shoppers are returning to shop in stores in similar numbers to those seen before the pandemic. They have also embraced self-service habits as they increasingly use do-it-yourself (DIY) technology in stores, allowing more associates to spend more time on the floor to help buyers, explained Zebra.
While nearly 75% of shoppers say inflation has caused them to delay shopping, they are still returning to stores, but most (76%) want to get in and out as quickly as possible. And they’re ready to help make it happen with their growing affinity for self-service technology. Shopper interaction with self-checkout solutions continues to grow, with almost half of shoppers reporting having used self-checkouts and nearly four in ten have used cashless payment methods.
Forty-three percent of shoppers surveyed prefer to pay with a mobile/smartphone device (+23pp since 2019) and half prefer self-checkout (+19pp since 2019) because the preference for a traditional checkout register kept per person has decreased (-20pp since 2019). A majority of retailers (77%) believe that staffed checkouts are becoming less necessary with automation technology, and almost half are preparing their stores, converting traditional checkout spaces into self-service and contactless options. Buyers are ready for it; about eight in ten expect retailers to have the latest technology, and retailers know it.
Consumers also continue to rely on their smartphones when shopping; this year’s usage indicates price sensitivity, as more than half of respondents check for sales, special offers or coupons, which translates to 68% who are worried about having to cut back on spending to make ends meet.
Consumers expect a seamless experience however they shop. Seven in 10 prefer to shop in-store and online, as well as online retailers that also offer physical locations. Convenience is paramount to fulfillment: most shoppers (75%) prefer the option of having items delivered, and 64% opt for retailers that offer in-store or curbside pickup. The same goes for reverse logistics: eight out of 10 shoppers prioritize spending with retailers that offer easy returns. Nearly half of retailers surveyed are converting space in their stores for order picking, supporting consumer preferences for fulfillment. Mobile orders continue to rise, with more than eight in 10 shoppers and nine in 10 millennials using it, and seven in 10 shoppers want more retailers to carry it.
“Shoppers don’t see channels, they see a shopping experience regardless of how they shop,” said Matthew Guiste, retail industry leader, Zebra Technologies. “The era of siled and omnichannel operations is out of step with how people shop today. A unified commerce approach can help retailers meet shoppers on how they shop (online, in-store, social, mobile, or any combination) and improve their overall experience. »
While nearly eight in 10 shoppers worry about inflationary price increases for basic necessities, they aren’t necessarily leaving stores without the items they wanted because of the price. Associates expressed out-of-stock complaints as their main frustration. No less than 76% of buyers leave without the items they intended to buy, and 49% blame them for being out of stock. Retailers are painfully aware; 80% agree that maintaining real-time visibility into out-of-stock items is a significant challenge, and they need better inventory management tools for accuracy and availability.
Seven in 10 shoppers are satisfied with the help of retail associates, up from just 37% in 2007. And retail shoppers, associates and decision-makers agree that shoppers have a better experience when associates are using the latest technology to help them, Zebra added. But that’s not the only benefit, especially in the face of labor shortages: Most associates surveyed (78%) and retail decision-makers (84%) agree that stores leveraging retail technology and mobile devices are also attracting and retaining more associates.
To further improve the shopping experience, eight out of 10 retailers surveyed expect to allow more associates/seasonal employees to assist customers and prepare/process online orders for the 2022 holiday season. This also addresses another challenge cited by three-quarters of retailers surveyed: improving online processing efficiency and spend.
“After 15 years of studying buyers, associates and retailers, one constant is clear – retail is constantly changing,” Guiste said. “The expectations, experiences and behaviors of retail shoppers, associates and executives continue to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace. It’s only when technology and people come together, both in the vision of tomorrow and the ability to execute today, that retailers can consistently deliver the experiences customers expect. Retail is at a point where technology is no longer just a need or a pleasure to have, it’s a must.