Amid retail’s digital convergence transformation, traditional brick-and-mortar companies may have a lifeline: investments in creating a more personalized in-store shopping experience.
That assessment is based on a survey by retail management consulting firm Boston Retail Partners, which found that shoppers welcome a more personalized in-store experience. But just over half of retailers cite personalization as a priority. Researchers at the firm said in the report that while 79 percent of consumers polled want an in-store shopping experience, 53 percent of retailers are “focused on personalization as a top customer engagement priority.”
“Personalization technology is bringing new life to brick-and-mortar stores as the physical and digital retail environments collide and customers expect a personalized experience in every channel,” authors of the report noted. “Retailers must infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations, compete more effectively and offer a more complete and personalized shopping experience.”
Ken Morris, principal at BRP, said effective customer engagement “requires retailers to offer a personalized, relevant, compelling and consistent experience across channels.”
“In today’s crowded and highly competitive market, personalization is a critical component for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience,” Morris said. “Customer identification is necessary to personalize the in-store shopping experience, [but] 63 percent of retailers can’t identify their customers prior to checkout, which is too late to empower the associate to influence the current purchase decision.”
That missed opportunity also plays into retail brand loyalty. The survey found that 79 percent of consumer respondents said personalized service from a sales associate was “an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop.”
BRP said online shoppers are “accustomed to features such as product reviews, expansive merchandise choices, one-click transaction processing and personalized recommendations” and added that these expectations don’t “dissipate when the customer walks into a physical store.” Indeed, BRP researchers said customer expectations are amplified across channels because they want the same “benefits” regardless of where and how they buy products.
The report’s authors said in-store sales associate serve a key role for delivering personalization as well as presenting various product offerings and making recommendations.
In regard to customer identification, 64 percent of shoppers polled said they’re comfortable with retailers “identifying them via their mobile phone when they enter a store, as long as it means they are offered a personalized experience.” But 63 percent of retailers are not equipped to identify customers prior to checking out and 20 percent said they can’t identify them until after they check out — or “not at all.”
The BRP study was sponsored by TSYS along with Aptos, Diebold Nixdorf, ECRS, Fujitsu and STORIS.