Retailers Should Focus on In-Store Technologies to Make Experience More Seamless

NEW YORK (March 2, 2016)—According to a new executive briefing developed by Forbes Insights, in cooperation with EY, “Closing the Loop: The Last 1,000 Feet of the Shopping Experience,” the majority of retailers believe they provide a seamless experience across all channels, yet they are not always taking the last 1,000 feet—the physical space a customer must traverse to make an in-store purchase—into consideration. Shopping is not seamless if there is a breakpoint at the street level. Retailers have the opportunity to use in-store digital technologies to improve the customer experience while improving out-of-stock issues.

This is essential in a world full of digitally savvy customers armed with information gathered online, who expect retailers to intuitively deliver on their constantly evolving needs. They want this to happen seamlessly, whether they are online or in a physical store. They have no time to waste.

A startlingly high 64% of retailers consider themselves advanced or leading at providing an overall seamless shopping experience, according to a Forbes Insights/EY survey of 72 retail executives. But only 45% of them think highly of the experience they offer in the last 1,000 feet.

“In order to succeed, retailers must adapt and listen to their consumers, who are now demanding a more comprehensive and consistent customer experience. If the in-store experience does not meet the standard set by digital channels, this will be an issue for consumers,” said Thomas Bornemann, Principal Advisory Consumer Products and Retail at EY.

The scale, difficulty and cost of installing in-store technologies are the reasons some retailers are behind on the maturity curve. For large retailers, the rollout needs to happen across 1,000 or 2,000 stores. Store associates, the biggest labor base, need to be trained in how to utilize the technologies. Not an easy task considering that employee adoption and engagement is the top challenge in adopting omnichannel, cited by 64% of respondents.

“Retailers are often wary of the cost and disruption involved in changing anything to do with stores,” said Forbes Insights’ Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer and Head of the Forbes CMO Practice. “But they can’t afford to ignore this key link in the omnichannel experience.”

Other key findings include:

·      Ninety-two percent of those who are overall leaders are also leaders in this 1,000-foot segment. In fact, 81% of respondents who are leaders in the last 1,000 feet had sales increases, compared with 65% of those whose last 1,000 feet were not integrated into a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience.

·      Real and dynamic pricing is the most effective way to engage consumers, say 44% of survey respondents. Sixty-one percent of retailers say that customers will engage with personalized offers. Fifty-seven percent say that customers will appreciate the efficiency and visibility of real-time pricing.

·      Retailers clearly recognize the importance of in-store digital technologies. Ninety-four percent believe that these technologies will help them with inventory management at the store level, and 79% attribute their better out-of-stock results to in-store digital technologies.

·      Investment in digital technologies, already at high levels, will intensify over the next two years. Ninety-one percent of respondents say their investments will be significant, though digital in-store technologies are less of a priority (29%) than new technologies/predictive analytics—the top area where retailers will be investing (46%).

About this research

The data in this report is based on a survey of 72 retail executives conducted by Forbes Insights and EY. All the executives worked at companies with more than $1 billion in revenues; 43% had revenues between $1 billion and $4.9 billion, and 57% had revenues of $5 billion or more. A majority (36%) were at the senior vice president level, and 24% were C-level. They represented convenience stores (35%), specialty stores (26%), mass grocery (24%) as well as drugstore (8%) and club (7%) chains.

About EY

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