One cranky store associate can spoil an entire shopping excursion.

InMoment, an experience management company, has released its report, “2017 Retail Trends Report: Why Human Interaction and the In-Store Experience Still Matter.” Perhaps most critical to the in-store shopping experience, the report said, is the quality of service delivered by store associates.

To collect its results, InMoment surveyed more than 30,000 North American consumers in effort to gain higher understanding of shopping habits, specifically focused on the path to purchase, beginning before a consumer sets foot in a brick and mortar. Findings were then weighted by official census data.

“Retailers that are concerned with in-store sales should look to experience. Consumers rated location (63 percent), previously good customer experiences (33 percent), and overall quality of products and services (28 percent) as the top three reasons they shop in-store,” the report said.

As retailers ready themselves for the Black Friday shopping bonanza, it might be worth reinforcing the importance of delivering high customer service – regardless of price point. “Positive experiences with staff on average increases a customer’s satisfaction across industries. This is particularly relevant to the fashion industry, where a positive experience with staff increases a fashion customer’s satisfaction by 73 percent, the highest of all industries,” the report said.

In action, this looks like well-informed staff supported by shopper data, which accurately suggests product in line with previous purchases. “More than half of consumers (54 percent) say they value staff who are knowledgeable of products and services, recognize past purchasing patterns and needs and are aware of loyalty membership status. This number rises to 65 percent for Millennials,” the report said.

Fashion retailers and brands have room to improve brick-and-mortar shopping journeys. According to the research, satisfaction levels for in-store shopping averaged approximately 39 percent — online satisfaction was 41 percent. Though a small disparity, it’s still distinct. And while retailers and brands are now entering the thick of shopping season, it might not be not too late to buoy strategies for 2018.

Retailers and brands that collect, analyze and guide future initiatives based off the collected data from this coming weekend — and the ongoing holiday shopping period — will be prepared to finalize initiatives going into the new year. For those that have not finalized agreements with solution providers — consider software that empowers store associates to connect with consumers in an authentic and informed approach.

More from WWD:

Consumers Begin Holiday Shopping In-Store Due to Online Frustrations

How NewStore’s Stephan Schambach Gets It All Done

Key Strategies to Draw Holiday Shoppers: Make It Quick, Personal, Convenient

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