Over four fifths of consumers will walk out of a store if a product they want is not in stock or if the customer service is poor or has been previously.
That’s one of the key findings in new research into customers’ buying behaviours and preferences by Hitachi Consulting UK, the business IT strategies and technology solutions provider.
Its survey of 1,000 UK consumers aged between 18 and 55+ explores their personal views around three key retail areas: the consumer shopping journey, the evolving expectations of the in-store environment and new in-store technologies in a bid to unlock what it terms the ‘Shopping Particle’ – the decision to purchase.
Having relevant items in stock was seen as the most important way to improve shoppers’ experiences – followed by having competitor price comparisons available in-store, improvements to the in-store environment, and sales assistants having more information available at their fingertips, said researchers.
The research reveals today’s customers are focused on making more informed purchasing decisions using the information available across multiple channels.
Hitachi Consulting UK found 90% of consumers regularly research products online prior to buying them, and 60% of those who own a smart phone use them for researching products while they are in store.
In order to enhance the customer journey and push customers into this ‘conversion funnel’, retailers need to monitor all channels of information and touch points with which customers are interacting, said Hitachi Consulting UK.
In addition, businesses will also need to monitor the channels customers are using, so the company can establish consumers’ preferences and provide a more personalised experience that delivers the right information at the right time.
However, with retailers now generating such a huge amount of data, brands need to be able to make sense of this information in order to find and unlock the valuable insight into customer behavior, said researchers.
Hitachi Consulting UK said its ‘Shopping Particle’ is the quest for valuable insight from existing data that can help retailers drive sales, boost profits and increase customer retention.
Finding and using the Shopping Particle relies on an innovative approach to collecting, organising and presenting all the data available – making it timely and relevant to the business decision makers, irrespective of whether they represent marketing, buying, finance or retail, the company said.
Chris Gates, director of retail at Hitachi Consulting UK, said: “There is a moment in every retail transaction when the customer makes the decision to buy a particular product, whether online or in-store, at a particular price and from a particular retailer. This is the Shopping Particle – the moment that every retailer would love to understand, and love to be able to influence.
“Retailers need to do more than ever to influence the choices their customers are making.
“Traditional retail models are exploding at the moment, and causing a tidal wave of organisational complexity and insight challenges.
“Some technology vendors put a lot of emphasis on the innovations they consider to be the next big thing, and yet don’t always provide any real clarity with regard to ROI.
“At the same time, the weak economy is forcing retailers to focus on cost control above all else, and to look to short term payback rather than the infrastructural changes that are often needed.
“The existing information retailers already hold in their business is a rich source of insight to help them better understand their customers, which can deliver short term ROI, and can inform customer centric decisions across the organisation.
“The search for the Shopping Particle is a profitable one all retailers should be embarking on.”