Retailers not committed to providing channel agnostic shopping experiences

Retailers in the UK are determined to keep investing in in-store technology, such as mobile assisted selling and self-service kiosks, to improve the customer experience – but most agree they’re not doing enough to replicate the experience of online shopping.

This is according new industry research from Qmatic UK Ltd. Conducted by Vanson Bourne, the research surveyed 100 retailers with between 501 and 3,000 employees based in the UK. The study found that on average, retailers spend £1m a year on improving the customer experience within physical stores, but half admit that they are investing considerably more in their eCommerce offering, with only a quarter (25 per cent) injecting comparatively more budget into bricks and mortar. 78 per cent of retailers have invested in in-store technology to improve the customer experience and 3 in 5 (60 per cent) retailers claim that they would like their physical stores to become “more important in the future”.

The study found that 69 per cent of retailers think their online customer experience is more innovative than that of in-store, and 53 per cent admit that there is a disconnect between the online and the in-store customer experience. Vanessa Walmsley, Managing Director at Qmatic UK, said: “There is a clear and recognised need to improve the in-store experience among retailers, and the vast majority recognise that there is not a single fix solution when it comes to technology. Retailers want to invest more because they recognise there are benefits from doing so, and although 22 per cent are equally dividing technology budgets between channels, the rest are facing a significant challenge.”

On average, retailers have implemented four different types of technology solution in their stores, with the most popular being assisted selling (sales assistants using tablets to inform customers around the store) purchased by 52 per cent of retailers, and free Wi-Fi, offered by 51 per cent (third was digital signage with 44 per cent and fourth was a ‘video wall’ with 38 per cent).

When asked what solutions were most beneficial in helping to improve the in-store experience for customers, respondents pin-pointed assisted selling with 52 per cent. Yet, despite heavy investments in types of innovative digital signage, it was interactive self-service kiosks (for checking stock, arranging home delivery etc.) that were the second most beneficial, cited by 30 per cent of respondents, ahead of free Wi-Fi (29 per cent), digital signage (25 per cent) and video walls (22 per cent).

Vanessa continued, “Consumers want a personalised and positive customer experience throughout the customer journey, and not just online. They want choice and convenience with a frictionless, seamless experience across all channels. We found that 41 per cent of retailers say that their stores get too busy for them to think about the customer experience – but in fact the right supporting technology can be very beneficial in terms of reducing customer wait times, eliminating friction points along the customer journey, as well as meeting demand for self-service and channel shift.”