Further evidence of the neglected in-store experience emerged when consumers around the globe were asked to identify which shopping channel needed the most improvement. This year, the top answer, at 34 percent, was the physical store. Close behind, at 30 percent, was the integration of store, online and mobile shopping into a multichannel experience. Only 27 percent said that shopping online via computer needed the most help, and just 9 percent said that the mobile shopping experience needed the most improvement. These findings suggest that many retailers are coming up short in their attempts to ensure that all channels work together and support one another seamlessly.
At the same time, the survey also makes clear that pouring more money into physical stores to fund yesterday’s customer experience solutions isn’t what consumers want. Instead, they expect stores to meld the digital and the physical into a cohesive whole. They want a technology-infused in-store experience that allows them to access services via their mobile devices before, during and after shopping at the local brick-and-mortar outlet.
The research also suggests that the increased use of mobile devices causes consumers to demand a more seamless retail experience. Consider pricing, for example. Shoppers are no longer willing to accept the confusing and disconnected experience of different pricing for different channels—what they pay online is what they expect to pay in stores. Two-thirds of survey respondents said they expect the same prices across channels, but only 32 percent of retailers consistently offered them.
Consumers also increasingly expect to use their mobile phones for a growing array of purposes during in-store forays, and Accenture research highlights the discrepancy between what customers want and what retailers offer. For example, shoppers want to be able to order out-of-stock merchandise via their mobile devices while in stores, but only about a third of retailers can deliver this capability. And even though roughly half of all consumers would like to receive promotions and loyalty points on their mobile devices while shopping in stores, only 5 percent of retailers provide this service.
Something else consumers do when they visit physical stores: use their mobile devices to make purchases from competitors. This could be for a variety of reasons, including price, service, options and availability. To combat this defection, it’s more important than ever for companies to be aware of what their customers want—and make it as convenient as possible for those customers to be able to buy what they want while they’re in the store.