With consumers increasingly embracing omni-channel shopping behaviors, retailers have an opportunity to bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences by investing in technology. While many consumers enjoy online shopping for the ease of comparing prices and reading reviews, they still enjoy the experience of shopping in stores. Investing in technologies like enhanced app experiences and alternate checkout options can allow retailers to give their consumers the best of both worlds.
In Near’s new report, The New World of Consumer Behavior: Retail 2022-2023, we surveyed consumers about their shopping habits, including how they feel about experiences that are enabled by technology including alternate checkout experiences and retailer apps. Here’s what we found.
How consumers feel about alternate checkout experiences
Unlike consumers at restaurants, which have shown a distaste for technology as part of the indoor dining experience, consumers at in-store retailers have shown a greater fondness for technology advances (and other alternative shopping experiences such as curbside pickup), and retailers would be wise to add even more, both in-store and online. In fact, of the different ways shoppers can checkout or receive their items in-store, the traditional checkout experience is least favored.
% of Shoppers Who Enjoy In-Store Experiences
Shoppers rated self-checkout lines the best, and given that it’s clear why retailers have adopted them en masse in recent years. Consulting firm RBR expects that in five years 160,000 stores globally will provide some form of self-checkout (whether through dedicated machine or smartphone), compared to 46,000 in 2021, and 36,600 in 2020.
This isn’t just due to the pandemic; self-checkout and other alternative methods can help alleviate some of the deterrents to in-store shopping.
How consumers feel about retailer apps
Another area retailers can continue to innovate is with app offerings. Shoppers report that apps are nice-to-have and not requirements, but that they are very nice to have. Even though 31% of shoppers reported that apps have no bearing on whether they shop at a store, more than 50% of shoppers prefer stores that do have apps. A small number of shoppers (14%) said they only shop at stores that have apps.
How much does a store having an app influence you to shop there?
Some of this is due to how apps can enhance the omni-channel shopping experience. Apps are a convenient way for retailers to add the benefits of online shopping to create a more holistic shopping experience, such as reading reviews, comparing products, or even finding where the product is in-store.
How IKEA uses technology to enhance the shopping experience
IKEA is a store that has found innovative and creative ways to use technology and digital platforms to not only expand the shopping experience, but also alleviate some of the common deterrents to in-store shopping. Its stores have long been known for their well-staged and imaginative showrooms, and even its meatball-serving restaurant. However, sometimes the experience can also be overwhelming and crowded. In recent years, IKEA has been able to evolve and use the benefits of an online store, digital apps, and alternative shopping methods to improve the experience for in-store shoppers.
With the IKEA Place app, shoppers can visualize a product in their own home. This helps shoppers narrow down all the possibilities and hone in on the products that match their homes. Going to the store then, becomes more about making the final purchase and ensuring it is the actual product shoppers want, rather than about discovery (and wading through crowds to do so). IKEA’s online store also allows shoppers to see if the product is even in stock ahead of time, while also providing pick-up and delivery options if necessary.
In this human movement data example of an IKEA in the Dallas, Texas area, you can see IKEA’s investment in technology and experience pay off. The IKEA location not only gets more than three times the visitors as its nearest competitor, visitors also stay at IKEA twice as long. They also travel to IKEA from the greater Dallas area, passing many other furniture stores on their way.
Read the report: The New World of Consumer Behavior: Retail 2022-2023
Retailers looking to win in this new world of consumer behavior need to use online shopping, new shopping channels, and technology to their advantage, creating delightful new experiences for their customers. Through creating winning experiences based on deep understanding of their customers, retailers will be rewarded with increased customer loyalty and revenue.
Survey conducted August 17-22, 2022 with 634 in the United States and 509 respondents in Australia, Census-weighted by age, gender, income and region.
Near studied pulled human movement data for retail locations across the United States and Australia, looking at specific locations in the Sydney, Melbourne, Dallas, San Jose and Nashville areas for August 1, 2021 – September 30, 2022. Reports used included Near Pinnacle’s Estimated Visits, Time Spent, Visitor Home and Work Locations Insights, as well as Near’s Geosocial Affinity, Estimated Visitors, and Cross-Visitation Reports.