Oxford Street and Regent Street stores slow to adapt to new technologies, survey finds

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Retailers are slow to adopt technologies that can improve customer service, according to a report by retail technology provider Omnico, which has completed a street survey of one of Britain’s highest profile shopping destinations: Oxford Street and Regent Street, London.

Despite the growth of internet shopping and more than half of consumers owning smartphones, only 14% of stores in the area offer free Wi-Fi and just 8% offer assistance through tablet computers in store. Even though 200m people visit the West End each year, queue-busting technologies such as self service checkouts and mobile point of sale are used by less than 3% of retailers surveyed on Oxford Street and Regent Street.

Almost half of consumers (44%) say they are more likely to shop with a retailer that embraces technology to improve customer service, rising to 63% amongst 16-24 year olds, according to a separate poll conducted by Omnico.

Omnico audited over 90 retailers for uses of 17 different technologies, such as click and collect, self-service checkouts and interactive kiosks. Retailers use an average of two technologies, while 30% of retailers don’t offer any of the technologies at all.  The most popular technologies in use by West End retailers are click and collect (44% of stores) and video screens (35%).

In terms of the number of technologies deployed, the best performing retailers in the Oxford Street and Regent Street area are: EE, Apple, Carphone Warehouse, John Lewis and Nike, all utilising six of more customer-facing technologies.

“We’re a little surprised that technologies that improve customer service aren’t particularly prevalent in a prime shopping area of the West End,” said Steve Thomas, chief technology officer, Omnico.  “Even the most popular technology – click and collect– which provides high street retailers with a simple way of joining together their online presence with the store is used in less than half of retailers.

“Our study also revealed that there is a large gap between those retailers adopting technology and those that aren’t. Only a handful of retailers on Oxford Street and Regent Street are using technology to enhance customer experience, leaving the majority of retailers behind the curve.”

Technology Percentage
Order online, pick-up in store (Click and Collect) 44%
Video screens in the shop window 35%
Order in store for home delivery 30%
Order in store for delivery to another store 19%
Customer wi-fi 14%
Advertisment of social media interaction 14%
Interactive kiosks 9%
Tablet assistance on shop floor 8%
Social media sharing booths/stands 4%
Using mobiles to scan products & check-out 3%
Self-service check-out 2%
Mobile phone loyalty apps 1%
Electronic shelf labels 1%
Incentive to check into the store with personal mobile 0%

“The online threat is very real for retailers, with research from the Centre for Retail Research claiming that than one in five shops could close by 2018,” said Thomas. “While price is a primary factor in shopper’s decision making, many value convenience. The battlelines are drawn against online retailers, where ‘bricks and clicks’ retailers have the opportunity to make a virtue of their store presence, while embracing new technologies to improve customer service.

“Those retailers that understand how to join up their systems in store with their website and mobile apps are most likely to succeed. Areas such as click and collect are just the beginning – savvy retailers have a ‘single view of the customer’ and are able to ensure that marketing campaigns are highly targeted and the experience in store is seamless with their app or e-commerce offering.”

Omnico spoke to consumers on Oxford Street and Regent Street about which technologies most improve customer service, the highlights of which are available on Omnico’s YouTube channel – http://youtu.be/KcdJma_Zgag