Consumers are generally dissatisfied with their retail experiences, at least according to a global study from the IBM Institute for Business Value called "Revolutionize retail with AI everywhere: Customers won't wait." The report points out that only 9 percent of consumers said they were content with their in-store shopping experiences and 14 percent content with their online shopping experiences.
The third biennial consumer study, which surveyed 20,000 global consumers, also made it clear that technology could play an important role in enhancing the overall shopping experience, with over half of respondents indicating they're eager for artificial intelligence enhancements like virtual assistants (55 percent) and AI applications (59 percent) as they shop. Six in 10 consumers surveyed also say inflation has impacted how they shop, with 62 percent saying that price is a top reason they switch stores or brands.
Other findings from the study include:
- In-store experience lacks luster: Consumers surveyed want greater variety of products available (37 percent), more information about products (26 percent), and faster checkout (26 percent) in stores. Most consumers surveyed (65 percent) are supplementing their in-store experience by using mobile apps while shopping — demonstrating a trend toward a digitally integrated in-store experience.
- Online shopping shortcomings: Online retail isn't immune to criticism; two-thirds of consumers surveyed discover new products via the web, yet many have expressed dissatisfaction with their online shopping journey, citing challenges finding the products they want (36 percent), not enough information about products (33 percent), and a cumbersome return process (33 percent).
- Consumers desire digital integration: Consumers surveyed showed a strong interest in using AI technology to enhance various aspects of their shopping. Most consumers (59 percent) said they would like to use AI applications as they shop, and four in five consumers who haven't used the technology for shopping reported an interest in trying it.
- Economic forces at play: Economic challenges, particularly inflation, are influencing shopping behaviors. Consumers surveyed are seeking flexible payment options, with 55 percent desiring more varied payment options and 46 percent reporting they would like to pay for their purchase in installments.
Total Retail's Take: The study discussed above reveals a widening gap between shopper demands and the current retail offerings. So, what should retailers do? Lean into innovation, with a real focus on integrated advanced technologies, such as AI, to elevate the shopping experience for consumers. In order to be successful in today's challenging economic environment, retailers have to be poised and ready to react to the quickly changing demands of consumers.