Retailers are now required to master both online and in-store shopping experiences to meet consumer expectations, according to new research by SOTI Inc., and those who don’t use technology to enhance both experiences risk losing customers to their competitors faster than in previous years, the report found.
“It wasn’t long ago that retailers could put their different channels in silos and report strong bottom lines,” Shash Anand, senior vice-president of product strategy at SOTI, said in a press release. “Now, they need to deliver a seamless and personalized shopping journey that can only be achieved through utilizing technology to ensure consumers are catered to at every touchpoint.”
The report outlined several challenges that made it difficult for consumers to shop in 2022 and found that retailers that offered the most seamless shopping experience, online and in-store, thrived.
Many of last year’s challenges were due to economic and supply chain snags, with 88 per cent of consumers experiencing issues, which was a seven per cent increase from 2021. These issues included higher pricing than last year (58 per cent, a 21 per cent increase over 2021), lack of product availability (34 per cent) and slow shipping (31 per cent).
“Retailers who understand consumer pain points will lock in consumer loyalty at a time when markets are volatile and goods are more expensive,” Anand said.
The report said consumers are essentially looking for the best of both worlds, but it partly depends on where they live. For example, 41 per cent of consumers in France and 40 per cent in Australia prefer buying items online and picking them up in-store, while 68 per cent in Germany and 62 per cent Mexico are most likely to continue shopping at a brick-and-mortar store.
Overall, half of global consumers prefer to shop with retailers who offer an experience based on their individual preferences. But fulfilment is even more important, since 66 per cent expect to know where their order is at all times within the delivery process and 61 per cent said they would continue shopping with brands that can deliver goods to them the fastest.
A third of consumers even indicated that a retailer’s delivery partner determines whether they will complete an order.
“With delivery charges increasing and delivery options broadening, retailers need to carefully select the right delivery partners to fulfil these heightened consumer expectations,” Anand said.
The return process is also important with 55 per cent indicating they are more likely to shop from an online retailer that provides multiple options to return a product.
“Looking ahead, optimizing and increasing the deployment of mobile device fleets across the entire supply chain will be important for retailers,” Anand said. “This will allow for sustainable and smooth delivery and returns processes, while creating a flexible hybrid business model for the ultimate consumer-retail experience.”