Redesigning Retail: what does the future of physical retail look like?

In retail, the consumer is firmly in the driving seat, with stores and shopping centres continually adapting their approach to customer engagement to keep pace with changing behaviour patterns.

What makes this all the more challenging is the fact that no two shoppers behave the same. Therefore, to meet the needs of their entire customer base, retail businesses need to be flexible; something that is easier said than done.

To help retailers and shopping centres understand how they can better meet the diversifying needs of shoppers, ShopperTrak surveyed consumers across five European markets. The results – which you can find in full in our new report, Redesigning Retail Part 2 – show that not only do consumer expectations vary from person to person, they evolve according to the type of store they are visiting.

Based on our research, we have identified some distinct shopper sentiments associated with different categories of store. Here are our key findings:

  • Fashion stores – a ‘good’ experience is determined by attractive product displays, a logical store layout, how easy it is to try items on before buying, and quick checkout times. Most likely to make shoppers leave empty handed are an insufficient volume of available changing rooms – a key frustration for a quarter of those we surveyed – and an unpleasant atmosphere.
  • Technology stores – tech fans want easy-to-find products, a logical store layout, a quick checkout and speedy customer service; 1 in 10 people complained about long waits for customer service queries. Helpful staff were also an influential factor, although over-keen salespeople proved a turn off.
  • Department stores – given the variety of products on sale, it is logical that ease of finding a product and attractive displays ranked highly in shoppers’ department store expectations. Interestingly, irrelevant offers were among their biggest bugbears, showing that selling a broad range of items can work against stores, as well as in their favour.
  • Beauty and healthcare stores – the nature of selecting a new product or brand can be time-intensive, so staff assistance is very important to shoppers in this sector. Like department stores, poorly targeted offers proved a frustration, with 1 in 10 shoppers believing the promotions they receive are not relevant to them.
  • Supermarkets and grocery stores – these stores play an intrinsic role in shoppers’ lives, so logical store layout and easy to find products are major considerations. A big sticking point is availability of staff, with 1 in 5 shoppers claiming not being able to find a store associate is a major problem.

Driving change through technology

What our survey revealed is that every retailer has a different set of challenges to overcome if they want to grow shopper value. Understanding of how consumers want to shop in a particular type of store is critical to facilitating better customer experience.

One effective way to validate store performance is through traffic insight technology, which can benchmark converted sales – and their value – against overall visitor volumes. Not only can this determine who is entering and leaving a store, but market-leading solutions that leverage shoppers’ smartphone connectivity can look at metrics within the store as well.

For example, if technology store visitors value quick checkout times, retailers can analyse in-store traffic against sales figures, to determine conversion rates by the hour. Not only that, they can look at sales figures versus dwell times in certain parts of the store – such as near the checkout – to see where long waiting times are impacting performance.

Equally, in health and beauty stores, where one-to-one advice is valued highly, retailers can look at dwell times versus conversions to average how long it takes to convert a customer. This data can then be used in conjunction with traffic trends throughout the day and week, to ensure the staff to customer ratio is optimised at all times.

Ultimately, the insights revealed may not be solved by streamlining the current store experience; retailers may feel that investing in new technology, such as queue busting systems or mobile Point of Sale hardware, is the best way to generate tangible improvements.

However, grounding technology investment decisions in shopper insight will help retail businesses to prioritise which digital tools will most improve customer engagement – and create a roadmap for the future that is driven by what the consumer wants.

To find out more about which technologies European shoppers most want to see in-store, get your free copy of Redesigning Retail Part 2: what does the future of physical retail look like?

 

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