Northbrook, IL—A new consumer survey by HRC Retail Advisory indicates that 95% of consumers want to be left alone while shopping, unless they need a store associate’s help. HRC asserts “many shoppers are moving away from the hands-on, personalized service from store associates and instead turning to their friends and family via social media to share pictures and gather opinions before they buy, particularly in apparel.”
HRC polled 2,900 North American consumers to better understand what drives shoppers into stores, and what they like to see when they get there. Survey topics included consumer shopping habits and preferences. According to HRC, the study revealed a majority of shoppers are looking to in-store technology for customer service.Approximately 85% of consumers surveyed said they want to be able to check prices at price scanners throughout a store rather than ask a sales associate for pricing information. Furthermore, 69% said being able to order a technology product online and pick it up in-store is important.
In the technology sector in particular, while HRC believes the need for store associates is diminishing overall, nearly 52% said an in-store personal shopper who helps them choose products is important when shopping.
But most respondents said they preferred retail technology over personal service. In addition, 76% of overall respondents rated an in-store app that provides personal recommendations as important.
“As consumers begin favoring in-store technology over sales associates while they shop, retailers must adapt to shopper expectations in the store environment,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory.
“Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits.”
Technology Falling Short In-Store: HRC
The consumers surveyed by HRC showed less enthusiasm about several of the popular retail technology innovations and in-store experiences that retailers are offering:
• Mobile Payments. Mobile payments ranked low. About 8% of those polled said that having the option to pay via a mobile app was important to them.
• In-Store Events. Only 19% said retailers’ special events designed to create community were an important part of a store’s offering. Moreover, a slightly higher 24% of generation Z consumers listed them as an important store feature.
Across all consumers surveyed, the in-store environment ranked as the most important factor while shopping (53%). The survey identified additional key environmental factors that shoppers also value in-store:
• Mobile Promotions & Sales. Nearly 34% of all respondents ranked receiving promotional and sales information sent directly to their smartphone upon entering the store as important.
• Mobile Point of Sale. Nearly 30% said that being able to pay a sales associate from anywhere in the store was important. This is an indication that digital scanning technologies should play a growing role in retail.
• Social Media. Nearly 70% of generation Z and 63% of millennial respondents are turning to social media to share pictures and gather opinions from their friends and family before they buy. This is particularly true while apparel shopping.
• Wi-Fi. Free in-store Wi-Fi was ranked as important by 30% of respondents overall. In addition, the rate was higher among younger generations.
• In-Store Apps. About 29% of overall respondents ranked in-store apps that would provide personal recommendations as an important store feature. Conversely, 17% ranked sales associates that would help them choose as important.
HRC Survey Methodology
HRC Retail Advisory’s survey was conducted online from February 20 to March 7, 2018. The total sample size was 2,903 U.S. and Canadian consumers between the ages of 10 and 73. Those ages 10–17 were recruited to participate through their parents.