Retailers in the UK are determined to keep investing in in-store technology, such as mobile assisted selling and self-service kiosks, to improve the customer experience. However, the majority agree they’re not doing enough to replicate the experience of online shopping, new industry research from Qmatic UK Ltd has found.
Conducted by Vanson Bourne, the research surveyed 100 retailers with between 501 and 3,000 employees based in the UK. The study found that on average, retailers spend £1m a year on improving the customer experience within physical stores, but half admit that they are investing considerably more in their eCommerce offering, with only a quarter (25%) injecting comparatively more budget into bricks and mortar. 78% of retailers have invested in in-store technology to improve the customer experience and three in five (60%) retailers claim that they would like their physical stores to become “more important in the future”.
The study found that 69% of retailers think their online customer experience is more innovative than that of in-store, and 53% admit that there is a disconnect between the online and the in-store customer experience.
Qmatic UK managing director Vanessa Walmsley said: “There is a clear and recognised need to improve the in-store experience among retailers, and the vast majority recognise that there is not a single fix solution when it comes to technology. Retailers want to invest more because they recognise there are benefits from doing so, and although 22% are equally dividing technology budgets between channels, the rest are facing a significant challenge.”
On average, retailers have implemented four different types of technology solution in their stores, with the most popular being assisted selling (sales assistants using tablets to inform customers around the store) purchased by 52% of retailers, and free Wi-Fi, offered by 51% (third was digital signage with 44% and fourth was a ‘video wall’ with 38%).
When asked what solutions were most beneficial in helping to improve the in-store experience for customers, respondents pin-pointed assisted selling with 52%. Yet, despite heavy investments in types of innovative digital signage, it was interactive self-service kiosks (for checking stock, arranging home delivery etc.) that were the second most beneficial, cited by 30% of respondents, ahead of free Wi-Fi (29%), digital signage (25%) and video walls (22%).
Vanessa added: “Consumers want a personalised and positive customer experience throughout the customer journey, and not just online. They want choice and convenience with a frictionless, seamless experience across all channels. We found that 41% of retailers say that their stores get too busy for them to think about the customer experience – but in fact the right supporting technology can be very beneficial in terms of reducing customer wait times, eliminating friction points along the customer journey, as well as meeting demand for self-service and channel shift.”