Mobile-Equipped Sales Associates Improve Shopping Experience: Survey

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A significant majority of consumers and retail store staffers believe that equipping sales associates with mobile devices improves the shopping experience.

According to an annual holiday shopping survey by Motorola Solutions, three quarters of store managers and sales associates believe they provide a better in-store customer experience when provided with the latest mobile technologies.

Similarly, 67 percent of surveyed shoppers reported heightened satisfaction with retailers where in-store associates utilized the latest technologies to assist in the shopping experience.

The Motorola spinoff, which provides communication services for enterprise and government customers, said the rising availability of shopping-assisted options across all shopping channels, including mobile shopping and price comparison apps, has raised customer service expectations for consumers and retail associates. Indeed, more than eight in ten (83.3 percent) of retail associates and managers surveyed believe that shoppers can easily find a better deal, making customer service more important than ever, while 61 percent of shoppers believe that they were better connected to consumer information, including coupons, competitive pricing and product availability than store associates.

“Retailers continue to deploy technology to improve the shopping experience but need to pay closer attention to the growing expectations of the omni-channel shopper,” observed Michelle Crissey, customer solutions lead at Motorola Solutions. “Rather than just give them technology and call it a positive experience, customers prefer that retailers use the technology in a meaningful way to actually give them a better experience, both in-store and for fulfillment of online and mobile orders.”

The results suggest that the need is pressing. According to the poll, fully one-third of shopping trips ended with customers leaving before satisfying their intent to purchase, leaving an average of $125 per trip on the table. Of those lost opportunities, more than 73 percent of shoppers did not complete their purchases with the original retailer.

Motorola attributed the lost revenue to inefficient payment approaches, out-of-stock occurrences, deal-habituated behavior, lack of selection, and limited store associate assistance.

The survey showed that 68 percent of lost sales could have been recaptured if a retail associate was able to order the item and have it delivered to the shopper’s home, while almost 55 percent of shoppers would have made their purchases if an associate could find another location that had the item in stock and told them how to get there.

While shopper activity and spend still remains significantly higher in-store than online, Motorola said retailers need to continue to address the needs of the multi-channel shopper. Online purchases swelled by more than 18 percent last year compared with 2010, and 63 percent of surveyed shoppers with smartphones downloaded some type of shopping application in 2011.

Increasing online spend has created variances in satisfaction between offline and online experiences. For example, almost 41 percent of shoppers were not satisfied with the ability to receive in-stock status in-store, compared with 20 percent online, and approximately 27 percent of shoppers were not satisfied with the ease of finding correct prices in-store vs. approximately 14 percent online.

Moreover, 42 percent of shoppers were not satisfied with the check-out process in-store, compared with 15 percent online.

Conversely, online shoppers cited a much higher dissatisfaction rate (41 percent compared with 25 percent) for the return/exchange process, providing a significant advantage for in-store retailers.

The vast majority of shoppers also reported that self-help technologies improved their shopping experience: 83 percent cited using a price checker, while self-checkout payment lanes (65 percent) and information kiosks (59 percent) also were mentioned frequently.

In addition, almost 38 percent of shoppers would likely use a retailer’s wireless Internet access to search for product information and post to the web while shopping, the survey showed, while more than 43 percent of shoppers would likely use a smartphone store app that creates a map from a shopping list to guide them through the sales floor on the most efficient route to complete their shopping.

The survey is comprised of two separate polls conducted Nov. 26 through Dec.13, 2011, one targeted to shoppers (1,231 respondents) and the other to in-store associates, staff and managers (393 respondents). Neither group knew of Motorola Solutions’ sponsorship.


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