Not only do today’s shoppers expect a great service experience, they want it to be integrated and harmonised across channels. According to recent research by Manhattan Associates, two thirds of shoppers say they expect a consistent cross-channel shopping experience, yet just 22% claim to enjoy such an experience today. With 68 percent stating they expect their online experience to be duplicated in store, and 70% saying they feel they know more about the products and services in store than the store associate, it is clear where the consumer thinks retailers need to invest.
Despite the current disconnect, an encouraging number of retailers appear to be focused on bridging this gap. Forty four per cent of UK retailers are looking at new in-store technologies as a business priority in the coming year whilst 40% are planning to invest in tools to improve support from customer facing employees. The rewards for those retailers able to effectively deliver on their plans are potentially huge, with more than half of the consumers surveyed stating this seamless service capability as the main reason they would be willing to commit their loyalty to a retailer.
Other key findings include:
- 39% of consumers stated “being able to check stock availability” as the most important role of the store associate yet only 6% of retailers say they have an accurate inventory overview across all channels all of the time
- Retailers think “general customer service, being friendly, approachable and greeting customers” is the most important role of the store associate (64%)
- 41% of consumers stated “fast delivery” as a key reason they would stay loyal to a retailer
- Consumers consider “free delivery” as the most important fulfilment option a retailer should offer as part of their online service proposition (62%) and are happy to wait three days to receive products in this way
- “Ship from store” seems to be increasing in popularity with 56% of retailers already doing it and 36 percent planning to offer it as part of their future fulfilment strategy
Henri Seroux, senior vice president EMEA at Manhattan Associates, commented: “Consumers clearly have an expectation of what a retail experience should look like in today’s digital world and are willing to offer their loyalty in exchange for retailers able to meet that expectation. Now is the time for retailers to invest in technologies that keep them ahead of the curve and take the appropriate steps required to close the gap between customer expectation and today’s reality. Those that do will be the ones that will thrive in 2017 and beyond.”
The research by Manhattan Associates questioned 2,000 UK adults about their shopping experience and expectations. It also sought the views of executives from 50 UK multi-channel retailers about their organisation’s service and fulfilment capabilities.