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Report: Consumers want to be left alone when shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

Shoppers are increasingly looking to in-store technology for customer service versus personal assistance from store associates.

That’s according to a survey by strategic retail advisory firm HRC Retail Advisory, which found that many shoppers are moving away from hands-on, personalized service from store associates, and instead of turning to their friends and family via social media to share pictures and gather opinions before they buy, particularly in apparel.

The survey revealed that 95% of consumers want to be left alone while shopping — unless they specifically need a store associate’s help. Approximately 85% want to be able to check prices at price scanners throughout a store rather than ask a sales associate for pricing information.

“As consumers begin favoring in-store technology over sales associates while they shop, retailers must adapt to shopper expectations in the store environment,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. “Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits.”

In-store environment ranked as the most important factor while shopping (53%). Other factors that shoppers deem as valuable when shopping in-store are receiving promotional and sales information that is sent directly to their smartphone (34%), and mobile point of sale (30%). Free in-store Wi-Fi was ranked as important by 30% of respondents overall, and the rate was higher among younger generations,

About 29% of overall respondents ranked in-store apps that would provide personal recommendations as an important store feature, versus only 17% who ranked sales associates that would help you choose as important. Being able to reserve apparel online, and try it on in-store before purchasing was ranked as important for 42% of Millennials, and 38% for Generation Z.

The survey found that consumers are not all that enthusiastic about several of the popular technology innovations and in-store experiences that many retailers are offering:

  • Dressing Room Tech. Technology in apparel-store dressing rooms that assists with shopping was deemed important by only 17% of those surveyed. And only 6% of respondents ranked customized lighting in dressing rooms as important when shopping for apparel and shoes.
  • Mobile Payments. Mobile payments ranked only slightly higher, with about 8% of those polled saying that having the option to pay via a mobile app was important to them.
  • In-Store Events. Only 19% of overall respondents said that retailers’ special events designed to create communities were an important part of a store’s offering, particularly when shopping for apparel and beauty products. Events may grow in importance in years to come, however, as a slightly higher 24% of Generation Z listed them as an important store feature.

In other survey highlights:

  • Sixty-nine percent of shoppers said that being able to order a technology product online and then pick it up in store is important (likely where they can see it and test it before buying), with a similar 65% saying it is important for apparel, according to the survey.
  • While the need for store associates is diminishing overall, nearly 52% of all respondents said that an in-store personal shopper who helps them choose products is important when shopping for technology items. However, most respondents still preferred technology over personal service, as a much higher 76% of overall respondents rated an in-store app that will provide personal recommendations as important.

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Giant Food gifts $1 million to CMN

BY Michael Johnsen

Giant Food Stores last week announced a $1 million donation divided between three local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partners in the form of grants awarded during Children’s Hospitals Week in Orlando, Fla. The donation was part of Giant Food Store’s 95th anniversary celebration, with events happening throughout 2018.

“We are honored to mark 95 years of caring for our communities by supporting our partner hospitals of Children’s Miracle Network with these special grants,” Nicholas Bertram, president Giant Food Stores, said. “We passionately believe in giving back, and we are especially committed to the health of our customers and their families.”

The grants have been awarded to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ($570,000), Penn State Children’s Hospital Hershey ($280,000) and Geisinger Medical Center ($150,000) and will be used for specific needs as identified by each hospital.

“We are so grateful for Giant’s continued commitment to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and its partnership with our member hospitals,” John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, said. “We are excited that Giant has identified these hospitals that support their local communities and made an additional commitment to the treatment of sick and injured children.”

In addition to the annual Balloon and Candle in-store campaigns held during the summer and at the holidays, associates also regularly volunteer at CMN Hospital events, including radio and television telethons. Since 1997, Giant Food Stores, a division of Ahold Delhaize, has raised more than $42 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The Giant Food Stores Welcome Desk at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will welcome 10,000 patients from nine specialty programs during the day and 12,225 urgent care visits on nights and weekends. Last week’s gift will enhance the patient and family experience at all three urgent care sites, helping CHOP plan for the unplanned.

And Penn State Children’s Hospital will receive support for 3D Printing and Modeling for Congenital Heart Disease, Giant Food Stores reported. In addition to enhanced clinical care for patients and ongoing clinical research, the use of 3D printed cardiac models will also assist medical students and residents in their education about congenital heart disease.

 

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Food Lion picks up three Farm Fresh locations

BY Michael Johnsen

Food Lion last week entered into a transaction to purchase three Farm Fresh stores in the Greater Norfolk, Va., area from Supervalu.

“We are so excited to add these three new locations to our network of more than 100 stores serving the greater Norfolk area,” Meg Ham, Food Lion president, said. “We are part of the fabric of this community. We’ve been here in the towns and cities of Hampton Roads nourishing our neighbors and customers for nearly 40 years. With the addition of these three new stores, we have an even greater opportunity to serve more customers with fresh, quality products at affordable prices every day with the caring, friendly service they expect from Food Lion.”

All locations will remain open as Farm Fresh stores until the transaction is complete, which is expected in May. Pharmacies at all locations will also remain open through the transition and will be operated by Food Lion once the transaction is complete.

Food Lion, a division of Ahold Delhaize, also will extend its commitment to supporting local communities through its hunger relief philanthropic platform, Food Lion Feeds. As part of last week’s announcement, Food Lion is donating 3,000 meals to local families for each new store to the following food banks that support these communities – the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, and the Food Bank of the Albemarle. Food Lion will also ensure each new store will be assigned a feeding agency partner to receive weekly food donations through the company’s food rescue program.

 

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