New Study Explores How the Retail Customer Journey is Evolving
New research from Service Management Group (SMG) highlights aspects of the cross-channel retail experience that matter most to consumers. Using its brand experience platform to combine operational measurement with behavioral data, SMG fielded a study to understand preferred retail channels, what drives consumer shopping preferences, and what shifts may be on the horizon. With feedback from more than 6,000 consumers, SMG came up with three insights to help retail brands deliver a better omnichannel experience. In SMG’s own words, here they are:
1. In-store shopping reigns supreme. In-store shopping has not only returned in a big way since the pandemic—with 8 in 10 respondents shopping in store during the last 12 months—but consumer feedback highlights the go-forward importance of this channel with 52% of respondents saying it’s their preferred way to shop whereas just 1 in 4 respondents prefer delivery. While providing a great in-store experience is paramount, nearly half of respondents browse online before shopping in store, reinforcing the importance of providing a consistent cross-channel experience.
2. “Free” is better than “fast”. Delivery fees remain a prominent issue for consumers and retailers alike. When asked to select the most important factor when choosing how to make retail purchases, nearly 1 in 4 consumers selected free delivery. Furthermore, for consumers who prefer to do their retail shopping online, free delivery was nearly two times more popular than the second most selected option: ease of shopping online. With added costs coming from delivery and shipping, understanding customers’ expectations can help retailers drive priorities for both operations and the customer experience—especially important with the holiday season approaching.
3. The omnichannel experience begins with digital. While free delivery is driving digital conversion, the importance of the digital experience is critical across the customer journey. In addition to 30% of respondents expecting to increase digital shopping in the next six months, more than a third of consumers are using websites and apps to get product details and browse before shopping in store. Roughly half of respondents indicated they are using digital channels to compare prices and view offers or promotions, and value-based shopping will likely continue growing with consumers reducing retail spending due to inflation.
“While the proverbial return to normal has been anything but predictable, the pillars of delivering a consistent retail experience have reemerged: cross-channel consistency, value, and frictionless experiences,” said SMG Research Director Kurt Cederman. “With heightened concerns about inflation, retail brands will have to balance perceptions about value and convenience as we move into the holiday shopping season.”
Service Management Group (SMG) is a global customer, employee, and brand experience management partner to more than 500 brands. To learn more visit smg.com.
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