Shoppers, Retailers See Need for Better Automation, Technology in Stores

Dec 21, 2018—

Retailers are turning to technology to solve shoppers' frustrations at brick-and-mortar locations, such as improving the fulfillment of online orders, speeding up checkout times and reducing privacy risks, according to a new research report. That means re-imagining the checkout process and improving inventory accuracy to meet fulfillment expectations, ultimately to avoid losing a sale. These are the key findings of a shopper study undertaken by Zebra Technologies, which finds that shoppers are seeking greater convenience, more help from sales associates and a higher likelihood of finding what they need at stores.

The global shopper survey was the 11th annual version of that study, which is aimed at identifying and measuring the interests and concerns of shoppers. The survey polled shoppers, retail decision makers and store associates alike. Customers reported some continued frustrations regarding the difficulty of finding sales assistance, as well as a lack of connectivity preventing store associates from quickly accessing order information, or from finding products and shipping them to customers if they are not available onsite.

From the retailer perspective, the survey found the majority of associates perceive their stores as understaffed and feel they are unable to assist customers due to other tasks they must complete. Sixty-six percent indicated that if they had a tablet or some other handheld access to data, they could better serve shoppers.

Zebra conducts studies annually to gain a sense of market trends. including an IoT vision study (see Zebra's Annual Survey Sees Growth in IoT Adoption). However, those such as the vision study have focused on decision makers. Zebra's shopper study is based specifically on customers, and on their perceptions of stores, according to Tom Moore, the company's industry lead for retail and hospitality. "We've also incorporated responses from associates and decision makers, but the lens is stronger toward the shopper," he explains. "The purpose is for us to capture the voice of the customer. "

In that effort, the study gathered responses from 4,725 shoppers, 1,225 sales associates and 430 decision makers from throughout North America, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and the Middle East, all of whom were interviewed in October and November of this year by Qualtrics. Previous shopper studies focused on customers and retail associates only, while decision makers (such as retailer corporate management) were included in the 2018 survey.