This fall, the National Retail Federation® (NRF)’s Consumer View explored shoppers’ experience with technology and how it is shaping their attitudes today — and tomorrow – in the retail environment.
As the organization’s Technology & the Consumer report indicates, the term “technology” in the retail realm runs the gamut from mobile payments to virtual reality. Today’s retailers are under pressure to understand which innovations will attract and retain customers now and in the future.
According to the report, payment and fulfillment technologies lead consumer awareness, with nearly 7 in 10 consumers having heard of mobile payment or buy/reserve online, and pick up in store — and more than half have actually tried it.
NRF’s research determined that customers are most satisfied with technologies that streamline the store experience, from checking out to finding and picking up the items they need.
Even with high awareness, many technologies fall short of consumers’ expectations, the NRF report revealed. More than 4 in 10 consumers said their experience with in-store digital displays, tablet-/mobile-empowered associates, or messaging apps had no impact on their experience; and 1 in 10 said it actually made their experience worse.
“The most impactful innovations for today’s shoppers are those that transform, not replace, the physical retail experience.”
Good news: physical retail remains an important touchpoint for consumers, even in this technical age. NRF research determined that 21 percent of consumers are primarily online shoppers, purchasing more than half of their items online. The majority (79 percent) typically buy half or less of the items they need online. Not surprisingly, the younger generations are more likely to make the majority of their purchases online.
It can be difficult to sway consumer behavior when it comes to brick-and-mortar retail; however, younger consumers show they can be convinced to visit stores more frequently when offered the chance to have a new experience or pick up items they order online. Half (49 percent) of Millennial/Gen Z respondents say they are shopping in stores more than they were one year ago.
Online shoppers view themselves as more loyal than consumers who concentrate their shopping in stores. Consumers who shop primarily online are two to three times more likely to perceive themselves as very loyal to the brands and retailers they shop for items such as clothing, consumer electronics, and personal care.