Merchant Customer Experience Needs More Tech Touch

by Raymond Pucci 0

It’s still about the customer experience, and shoppers want technology to play a big role. As the following article reports, shoppers are looking for mobile and digital enhancements to their merchant interactions.

For many customers, the ideal digital “store of the future” will streamline payments and make it easier to pick up purchases. This was according to the “Consumer View,” a study from the National Retail Federation that tracks consumer awareness and adoption rates across a variety of retail technologies.

For example, shoppers are most interested in buy online, pickup in-store (68%) services, in-app store navigation (66%), and mobile payment (65%). Yet, many technologies still fall short of consumers’ expectations, suggesting successful implementation still has a ways to go—even for more mature technologies, the study revealed.

Specifically, more than four in 10 consumers (44%) said their experience with in-store digital displays (44%), tablet-/mobile-empowered associates (43%) or messaging apps (43%) had no impact on their experience. One in 10 said it actually made their experience worse (10%, 8%, 9%, respectively).

Despite wanting more practical solutions, customers are keeping a keen eye on emerging innovations. The two technologies that currently top shoppers’ “must try” lists are 3D printing and drone delivery.

Customers also continue to try new solutions, even if they are not yet mission-critical shopping tools. These include visual search (27%), voice search (21%), augmented reality (20%), virtual reality (18%), and smart dressing rooms (13%).

“While ‘store of the future’ technologies dominate the retail conversation, many still remain at the periphery of consumer awareness and usage,” the study said. “Today’s shoppers are much more concerned with the innovations impacting the most fundamental elements of retail: How do I pay for my items and how do I get my purchases?”

Consumers have gravitated to merchants’ digital features such as mobile order and pay, on-demand services, and self-checkout. Basically, any technology that delivers convenience, immediacy, and seamless payments should be winners. Shoppers have short attention spans, plus are overloaded with marketing messages and promotions. Merchants with engaging online and in-store technology enhancements, especially related to mobile, contextual, and conversational commerce will attract shoppers that visit frequently and spend more.

Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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