While the first several months of the pandemic experienced ongoing changes in consumer behavior, a majority of shoppers may have finally found a steady pace. In fact, even with the Delta variant to consider, new findings from NewStore, the omnichannel store solution, show that 42 percent of consumers will not change how often they shop in-store.
And as consumer sentiment levels out, the survey also revealed that 45 percent of consumers even feel more comfortable shopping in-store now than they did a year ago. Interestingly, consumers age 65 and over were the most comfortable at 60 percent, compared to just 41 percent of consumers age 55 to 64 and 46 percent of those between the ages of 45 to 54.
Younger consumers reported being less comfortable with just 36 percent of consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 and 39 percent of consumers 25 to 34 saying they were more comfortable shopping in-store now than they were last year.
At the same time, nearly 30 percent of consumers said their expectations for store associates have increased since the pandemic. This sentiment was the highest among the consumers in the age range between 35 to 44 years old — which was also the range less comfortable going back to shopping in-store.
Among the growing expectations for associates was the demand for a more seamless checkout. Sixty-nine percent of consumers said store associates should be able to meet them for curbside pickup, while another 54 percent of consumers said store associates should be equipped with a mobile device in-store. Moreover, 33 percent of consumers said store associates should be able to check them out anywhere in-store with a mobile device.
To that end, 63 percent of consumers said store associates should be able to accept all contactless payment types. The sentiment was especially strong from consumers between the ages of 25 to 44 at about 68 percent agreement. And almost 40 percent of consumers want to shop in-store and use self-checkout on a mobile device. While the older generations were less likely to agree with this, more than half of the consumers between ages 35 to 44 said this was a desirable feature. Additionally, 69 percent of consumers said store associates should be able to email receipts at checkout.
Other expectations for store associates included being able to share store inventory without having to physically check, the ability to return or exchange an online purchase in-store without a receipt and the ability to sell a shopper something that isn’t available in-store and ship it.
Notably, consumers also expect store associates to communicate with them outside of the in-store experience. This includes 22 percent of consumers saying they believe that store associates should be able to meet virtually through video chat for a 1:1 shopping appointment and 22 percent of consumers saying they believe that store associates should be able to show products and sell them solely through texting — 37 percent of consumers also said they believed store associates should be able to text them about new arrivals, product availability, promotions and store events.
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