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Retailer-consumer gap persists

News, 13 January 2016

SAN JOSE/RESTON: Despite – or because of – the multiple opportunities retailers have to reach shoppers, many are failing to deliver a satisfactory experience according to two new surveys.

When Contact Solutions, a business offering digital engagement solutions, surveyed 1,004 shoppers on their current and preferred means of engagement, it found that 56% of online shoppers expected that a phone call would provide the best experience for getting assistance, but fewer than 30% of them preferred to start there.

In fact, 75% said that they would rather use mobile customer care inside an app because it reduced time and hassle. But, said Contact Solutions, over 95% of mobile apps force the user to exit the app to get live assistance via phone, chat, messaging, or email.

The gap between retailers and shoppers was also evident in study by RetailNext, which carried out in-depth surveys with 500 shoppers and 150 retail decision makers in the US and UK.

The retail analytics business concluded that retailers don't understand what matters most to shoppers.

"Retailers are experiencing a disconnect between strategy and tactics and what shoppers want most, such as consistent pricing across channels and the ability to make returns regardless of the channel where the initial purchase was made," it said.

Thus, 79% of shoppers reported pricing consistency as a critical or important requirement, while just 52% of retailers agreed.

Further, while retailers understood and agreed that in-store technology drives both operational excellence and the overall digital customer experience, they were struggling to measure customer behaviour

"Surprisingly few" reported the use of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) metrics in-store, with just 33% of retailers reporting they always measure conversion rates.

There is significant value in retailers getting their service aligned with shopper expectations. According to Contact Solutions, 53% of customers would spend more money with a brand if they could switch channels or devices to continue a conversation without starting over and repeating their information.

Similarly, RetailNext found that only 49% of consumers felt they received consistent experiences across all channels.

Data sourced from Contact Solutions, RetailNext; additional content by Warc staff