For the last three years Cognizant and RIS have partnered to conduct an annual shopper experience study. After hearing the CIO of the year nominations last night many of you are either channeling your shoppers or you have see previous years’ studies. We think you’ll be please with how we have evolved this years’ study. For those of you who are seeing the study for the first time, I think you’ll find some nuggets that you’ll discover a resource that you’ll refer back to many times and from which you’ll glean some useful nuggets. While many studies focus on retailers and what’s important to them, few channel the voice of the customer. Through the 2012 Shopper Experience study, you’ll get insight into what are your customers and potential customers like and dislikes and how are they responding to all the buzz around multichannel. This year we surveyed shoppers from around the world including the U.S. and Canada, U.K., Australia, China and Hong Kong. We selected respondents to reflect the typical mix of shopper.
It’s not news to anyone that there are a million and one things that drive and motivate a shopper to buy. Are they doing their weekly grocery shopping from a list or are they buying a new outfit for a party? Shoppers preferences vary not only by what they are shopping for but also based on their world view. Men and women have different shopping preferences as do shoppers by age group, income group and geography. But there are some similarities across shopper segments that retailers can use to devise their shopper experiences to appeal to the shopper segments they serve.
Because every consumer wants something different and every retailer has a unique value proposition how to become a retailer without boundaries varies. However, it’s universally true that the borders between bricks-and-mortar, digital, and mobile retailing are no longer relevant – in fact, they are counterproductive. Retail without boundaries is the next evolution of multichannel and omnichannel. It’s about being entirely channel agnostic because in the end, the channel doesn’t matter. The shopper does.
The industry at large has been talking about eCommerce, Multichannel, omnichannel, mobile, social media, and so on. We are hyper focused on the evolving digital experiences. Although eCommerce continues to grow at a faster pace than stores and digital experiences are infiltrating physical shopping experiences, shoppers stilllike to shop in stores. Yet, “Showrooming” is the number one risk facing retailers today. Although few retail brands are probably materially effected today by shoppers browsing at their stores and then purchasing online through a smart phone, tablet or PC, the threat is real and growing. Every single customer that walks out a retailers’ door and buys on Amazon is a loss and needs to be taken seriously. The threat ofshowroomingis illustrated by the fact that finding competitive prices and promotions and the right product selection are the top two factors influencing in-store purchases today. If the shopper doesn’t find what she wants at the right price when she wants it, she has a million options at her fingertips—no longer will she settle for good enough. The key to winning with shoppers today is to enable “Retail without Boundaries”.
We asked the question: “How much do you dislike each of the following when shopping in a store for products?” <Q3>As you can see from the close alignment from the red and blue bars, there is high alignment in this intolerance between Specialty and Consumables – any differences are fairly small and easily explainableThere is a high degree of predictability in this intolerance from year to year and even survey to survey: out of stocks, lack of signage, and difficulty in finding the product remain Shoppers’ biggest gripesSome additional facts: Women are much more sensitive to in-store issues than are menOrder online/pickup in store still not as important as other factors, but gaining in importance from 2011 to 2012 – particularly for younger shoppersPersonal access to associates is particularly important to older shoppers
That intolerance for inconsistency extends to your online environment.We asked the question “How much do you dislike each of the following experiences when shopping online?” <Q15>Leading gripes align with in-store frustrations: a lack of signage to the shopper “The product information you need is not available”“Purchase price not communicated clearly or early enough”We noted that multi-channel integration capabilities are weighted unequallyChannel price variations are seen as highly frustratingLack of buy online/return to store also seen as highly frustratingLack of buy online/pickup in stores fares slightly better, but has been increasing over timeSome additional facts:There were actually relatively small differences by gender, generational, and income levels – most shoppers feel the same frustrations
No matter who you are, price matters. Every demographic segment wants value. Shoppers may spell value differently, but they want the best product, at the right price and with a juicy promotion if they can get it. It’s about declaring victory. Being in the right location used to be terrific insulation against the competition. If a customer walked into your store, chances were pretty good that if she had the intent to buy, she would do so. Showrooming is changing the game on the quest for value—the boundaries are moving and customers are in control now more than ever. The fact that customers can stand in your stores and touch, feel, smell, and taste your products and then go and buy it elsewhere is will drive retailers to the lowest price—which is what shoppers want. Beyond price though, shoppers want the right product, exceptional customer service and differentiated experiences.
The role of store associates range from cashier to trusted advisor depending upon the store and the shopper. Today’s shopper is complex…some want efficient no frills service, others want to serve themselves, and still others are seeking top notch high-touch service. Unfortunately, shoppers have been disappointed in the quality of service they receive so often that associates have become the least preferred resource to help shoppers with purchase decisions. If a shopper can’t find what they’re looking for about half the time they’ll ask an associate, but the other half of the time the sale is simply lost—a full 25% go to your competitor. If something goes wrong many shoppers will never let you know. This is particularly a risk for shoppers age 18-33. The good news is that if a customer has an issue and decides to report it, they will most likely approach an associate. On the other hand, a growing number will look to commiserate with their friends on Facebook or another social networking site.Store associates need to be equipped to handle a wide assortment of customer service needs in an environment where shoppers are armed with state-of-the-art consumer technology, some of which is supplied by the competition. You can see more details about how important store associates are to your brand and shoppers perceptions on the “Store Associates Are A Retailer’s Brand Ambassador…For Better or Worse” poster.
While mobile and tablets are still emerging, men appear to be adopting them faster than women; however, women tend to rely more on social media.
As human beings we all crave recognition—we want to feel special and appreciated. Retailers’ ability to recognize shoppers online and through marketing campaigns and provide them with personalized experiences has improved dramatically in recent years. Shoppers generally like getting product recommendations, receiving coupons that target their specific interests, and having their information saved for easy check-out. Yet, in-store shopping experiences remain largely impersonal. Shoppers want more...They ranked “Personalized in-store experiences” as the most desired feature.But, they’re guarded with the information they are willing to share. Shoppers’ willingness to share information they deem personal received some of the lowest marks across our entire survey. Shopper are willing, however, to share identifying information that retailers can use to earn the trust of their shoppers by collecting reasonable information and using it well. The cool vs. creepy equation is a balance that needs to be struck between providing value and earning trust.
With the rapid pace of change in the retail space, primarily driven by shopper demands and ever-changing consumer technologies, it has become essential for retailers to move quickly and experiment with new experiences. Where a retailer might historically have demanded a fully rationalized business case before deploying resources, today they are struggling just to keep up. So much so, that the lines are blurring between investing simply to keep up with the competition versus intentionally investing based on the unique needs of shoppers. While quickly seizing the opportunities at hand is essential, every retailer is different and the right places to experiment are dictated by the shopper segments being served. For example, different shopper segments gravitate to different sources for research based on the intent of their shopping trip. While shopping for consumables shoppers generally look to traditional resources like product packaging and store signs. When they’re shopping for specialty products, they gravitate to the Internet. Although digital resources emerge as a preference, the least used resources are retailers mobile and tablet apps. I would argue that’s because, by and large, retailers have not built app experiences that are customized to their shopper…they’re keeping up with the Jones. Social media is all the rage with loads of positive and negative press. Are shoppers using social media to make purchases? No, not really. Do they expect their favorite retailer to engage with them on social media? Absolutely! But not for selling. They want promotions and fun, interactive experiences. Are their purchase decisions being influences by social media? Not at the same level as other influencers, but the influence is growing, and if APAC is an indicator of where North America is going, it will become one of the most important influencers of purchase decisions. It begs the question, how should your brand be manifested on social media?An area that requires significant investment but lacks the sizzle of some of the other shopper experience solutions is product information and digital asset management. It’s a cross functional, tricky problem to solve, but poor quality information is the leading dissatisfierfor online shoppers. Yet, if retailers can cleanse their online data and extend it for use in stores, they’ll be two steps ahead. This is one where you might not know what the Jones’ are doing, but if they’re investing and you’re not, there will be ripple effects.
2012 shopper experience study presentation for post