Walking into a store, finding something you like and then going home online to buy it is now becoming more commonplace, according to a new study by Zebra Technologies Corp.
Three-fourths (75%) of surveyed Millennial shoppers and more than half (53%) of Gen X shoppers indicated they shopped in a store and left without a purchase only to end up buying the item online, as reported in the 12th annual Global Shopper Survey.
The main culprit for retailers losing in-store purchases to online shopping is due to issues with inventory management, particularly out-of-stocks.
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.
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.
Furthermore, 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,” said Anees Haidri, Director of Global Retail Market Strategy, Zebra Technologies.
“To win with shoppers today, retailers must deliver the seamless, multi-channel experience that customers expect and leverage technology to provide more personalized services for managing inventory and building smarter operations.”
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, 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 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.