Many retailers are focused on employing tech to improve the in-store customer experience, but what if good customer experience means being left alone?
A recent HRC Retail Advisory survey of consumers in North America found that nearly all respondents (95%) only want help from a sales associate when they need it. Therein lies the issue—how to balance shoppers’ need for self-sufficiency with in-store tech investments meant to help staff on the front lines?
More than half (53%) of consumers surveyed ranked the in-store experience as the most important factor while shopping, but what does that exactly mean? A good number of respondents (30%) said mobile checkout was important to them, and almost as many thought apps that would make personalized recommendations were as well. But sales associates who served this same function were less desirable, cited by just 17%.
A separate survey of US internet users by Zebra Technologies discovered that the younger the consumer, the more likely they are to be receptive to sales associates using tech for assistance. Indeed, 58% of respondents ages 20 to 36 thought this would make for a better in-store experience, while only 36% of those ages 53 to 71 agreed.
Even so, 20- to 36-year-olds were also more likely to think they could find information on their smartphones faster than sales associates (64%). This age group also felt they were better connected to consumer information than store associates (53%), and said that finding information using a store app would be easier than talking to an employee (55%).
What's more, a December 2017 survey by InMoment also illustrates a disconnect between customers and retailers. Both US internet users and brand professionals cited poor interaction with staff as the No. 1 factor that contributes to a negative brand experience. But while nearly three-fourths (74%) of consumers agreed with this sentiment, only 29% of brand professionals thought that was the case.