Great Consumer Expectations of an Even Greater Customer Experience
In today’s always-on, always-connected society, it comes as no surprise that more and more shoppers are turning to their smartphone or laptop to satisfy their retail needs. Amazon.com has been a major disruptor in this regard, accounting for 50 percent of the growth in U.S. online retail sales in 2017 alone.
New global data released last month by Mitel suggests that despite the growing adoption of online and mobile shopping, brick-and-mortar retail is not dead — but poor customer experiences are hurting retailers. While the outlook for traditional retailers may seem bleak on the surface, there is some good news that technology is providing an answer for both online and physical store retail challenges. Furthermore, nearly half of those “coveted” millennial consumers report being very satisfied with the retail shopping experience overall.
Mitel conducted a survey of over 5,000 consumers from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Australia. The survey looked at these global consumers’ perceptions of customer experience while shopping online and in physical stores. A few key findings from the survey include the following:
- Distinctive Expectations: Consumers want both in-store and online shopping experiences, but have different expectations for them.
- Millennials on the Move: Millennial consumers are twice as likely as older consumers (55-plus) to view good mobile experiences as important for a great retail experience.
- Technology Balance: Technology is welcome, but at the right time and place. More in-store technology (e.g., robots to greet visitors and locate products) would discourage more shoppers (34 percent) than encourage (27 percent) them to visit a store.
- Human Touch: Customers in the U.K. and U.S. place significantly less importance on human interaction during the online and in-store shopping experience than customers in France, Germany and Australia.
- Regional Strokes: Everyone shops online differently. Americans are most likely to shop online via their smartphone, Britons are more likely to shop online via their tablets, the French most likely to reach for their laptop, and Germans most likely to use their desktop.
Survey Says: Retailers Have Customer Experience Options
These findings bear out the wisdom of using omnichannel engagement with consumers to make sure the shopping experience is personalized anywhere, on any device and moves seamlessly across channels. The numbers also point to the importance of aligning technology initiatives with target customer groups.
So, what makes a customer experience great? The top three things global consumers care about are product availability, simplicity and speed, and availability and service 24/7. These priorities apply to both physical and online retail experiences.
While the trend towards online shopping is undeniable, it might not be too late for traditional retailers. In fact, for all five countries surveyed, most shopping is still done in-store rather than online. Looking at the U.S. market, American consumers said 65 percent of their shopping is done in a physical store. Moreover, 44 percent of Americans said that while they want to shop more online, the experience is still not that good. When asked where they believe they will have the better experience, for Australians, it’s mostly the physical store, but for adults in the other four countries, the top response is both equally.
Up to this point, the debate for retailers has largely been viewed as in-store vs. online. However, it doesn’t need to be zero sum. Leading retailers that are winning the wallets of consumers incorporate a seamless omnichannel approach — and the technology to support it — as part of the buyer journey. This will need to be the model going forward for retailers competing in this increasingly crowded and evolving space.
Jon Brinton is the senior vice president of customer experience solutions at Mitel, a global market leader in business communications.