After a year of mostly shopping online, consumers have expressed an interest in returning to stores but they now expect a more seamless brick-and-mortar experience. They are also savvier about the role technology can play in improving the retail journey — and businesses need to keep up.
New research from the Lion’esque Group shows that consumers mostly want to use in-store technology for money-saving purposes (39 percent), while shoppers that are engaging with a retailer’s dedicated mobile app are mostly drawn to rewards (25 percent) and exclusive deals (22 percent). This may be tied to the ease of finding discount codes and coupons when shopping online; consumers want to recreate that experience in-store.
“Branded mobile apps span the omnichannel experience, offering different functions and value when used in-store than at home,” said the Lion’esque Group report. “Three-quarters of respondents report using a retailer’s mobile app while shopping in that same retailer’s brick-and-mortar location.”
Retailers looking to take advantage of this growing interest in technology should therefore position these tools as supplementary to the store experience. One area that merchants might want to invest in is fit technology, as this actively addresses pain points in the current fit room experience. Lion’esque Group found that access to additional sizing options is the biggest frustration for shoppers at 35 percent of respondents, so adding a mobile application that can address this is likely to improve the consumer experience.
Clothing (32 percent) and footwear (25 percent) were the categories that consumers most wanted to see this technology used for. However, there is still a discovery period at play right now; only 38 percent of consumers have reported using fit technology, but half of those who haven’t are interested in trying it. This provides a window for retailers to start introducing these new systems into their stores as an added value proposition, before they become table stakes.
“For those respondents who report previous experience with fit technology, the most identifiable application was from Nike, whose Nike Fit tool allows Nike Associates to digitally scan customers’ feet to identify the correct shoe size,” the report said.
Other prospective forms of interactive technology include digital signage, which 70 percent of consumers believe is more likely to catch their attention than a traditional version. Vending machines were particularly popular in the health and vitamins category (58 percent) and electronics category (44 percent), but apparel and accessories also saw interest from 38 percent of respondents.
Overall, the clearest message from the report was that retailers need to use their technology to address real consumer needs. While product information is useful, most respondents reported it as a lower priority compared to money-saving or purchase efficiency.
“It is no longer a question ‘if’ consumers will interact with in-store technology,” the report said. “Where we unlock the highest value-add will be correlated to where we are intersecting within the customer’s journey, whether it’s solving for fit, providing product information or going deeper with personalized messaging.”