Monday, 18 November 2019 15:17

Online purchases gaining dominance over in-store purchases

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Online purchases are gaining dominance over buying in stores, with three-fourths (75%) of surveyed millennial shoppers - and more than half (53%) of Gen X shoppers - indicating they shopped in a store and left without a purchase only to end up buying the item online.

According to a newly published survey by IT services provider Zebra Technologies, the main culprit for retailers losing in-store purchases to online shopping is due to issues with inventory management, particularly out-of-stocks.

The survey reveals that both shoppers and retail associates expressed dissatisfaction with the number of out-of-stocks, as 43% of retail associates cited customer complaints about out-of-stocks as their biggest frustration and 39% of shoppers left a store without a purchase due to this problem.

Zebra says that self-checkout technologies are also gaining traction in retail stores as 40% of shoppers reported using these solutions within the last six months and 86% stated comfort with the technology.

And most shoppers (58%) – especially millennials (70%) – agree that self-checkout provides an improved customer experience.

The majority of store associates (54%) also said staffed checkout areas are less necessary with new technology that automates the process - nearly nine-in-ten retail executives (87%) believe self-checkout frees up store associates to better serve customers, and 81% reported they’re starting to see a return on their investment.

“Our study shows that while better services will help retain current shoppers and attract new ones, retailers need to make sure they have the basics right when it comes to product availability, ease of finding products, returns and exchanges,” George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead, Healthcare and Retail, Zebra Technologies.

“To win with shoppers today, retailers must deliver the seamless, multi-channel experience that customers expect and leverage technology to provide more personalised services for managing inventory and building smarter operations.”

According to Zebra, providing a better customer experience will be crucial to keep shoppers coming back, but a significant disconnect exists between the expectations of retail executives and shoppers.

In fact, the survey reveals that 77% of retail executives believe customers are satisfied with the in-store experience while only 57% of shoppers reported feeling satisfied.

The study also identified sizeable perception gaps when it comes to the returns and exchanges process between shopper satisfaction (59%) and executives’ perception of their satisfaction (80%).

Investments in mobile solutions, though, have fostered agreement, among executives (85%) and store associates (73%), that equipping associates with the latest technology provides a better experience.

Retailers say they are also trying to improve the in-store experience through the use of robotics. Only seven percent of surveyed shoppers interacted with a robot in a retail environment in the last six months, but nearly three-quarters (72% ) said they were comfortable with them while 32% of associates reported concerns about being replaced by one.

The survey covered approximately 4,811 shoppers, 1,100 retail associates and 435 retail executives from North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

Key regional findings of the Zebra shopper survey were:

Asia-Pacific

Almost half of surveyed shoppers (49 percent) reported a preference for purchasing online because of the ease of the returns process.
Fifty-three percent of shoppers are reliant upon using their mobile device/store app for in-store shopping.

Europe and the Middle East

Two-thirds (66 percent) of shoppers reported satisfaction with their ability to pay anywhere in the store.
Only 14 percent of shoppers completely trust retailers to protect their personal data.

Latin America

Seventy-one percent of shoppers said self-checkout provides them with a better shopping experience and 64 percent prefer using the technology to a staffed checkout lane.
More than eight-in-ten (83 percent) shoppers are interested in receiving a coupon or cash-back offer in exchange for waiting up to four days for delivery of an online purchase.

North America
Only six percent of shoppers said they completely trust retailers to protect their personal data, the lowest score of any region.
North American holiday shoppers expect to spend 58 percent of their holiday budget in physical stores.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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