People do not want to speak with robots while shopping in-store or online according to a new study conducted by Oracle NetSuite in partnership with Wakefield Research and retail consulting firm The Retail Doctor.
The global study of 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the US, UK, and Australia found a huge disconnect between shopper demands and what retailers deliver in areas spanning the overall retail environment, social media, personalization and the use of advanced technologies such as chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR).
“These findings point to a clear and urgent need for better customer service. No retailer wants their customers to be confused or anxious, yet more than half of respondents have felt that way while shopping,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor.
“Customers will feel confident when they develop an emotional connection to the brand. This happens when retailers foster positive, helpful in-store interactions; contrary to popular belief, millennials want store employees to help them. With nearly every respondent reporting that they value brick-and-mortar stores, now is the time to craft every in-store interaction to keep shoppers coming back.”
Despite significant investments in enhancing the customer experience online and in-store, retailers are not able to keep up with rapidly changing customer expectations and this is creating a huge disconnect.
Despite almost half of consumers (42 percent) – and almost two-thirds of millennials (63 percent) noting that they would pay more for improved personalization, only 11 percent of retail executives fully believe that their staff has the tools and information needed to give consumers a personalized experience. The gap between consumer demand for improved personalization and retailers’ ability to deliver is damaging the customer experience.
While retailers are aware that they don’t have the tools and information needed to meet rapidly changing customer expectations, the study found that hyped technologies such as AI and VR are not yet the answer.
Despite the popularity of online shopping, physical stores aren’t going anywhere. As long as retailers keep the experience easy and seamless, consumers will keep shopping in-store.
“Consumer expectations are not only rapidly changing, but exactly what expectations look like vary from person to person and moment to moment. This makes it incredibly hard for retailers to keep up,” said Matthew Rhodus, director of retail at Oracle NetSuite.
“The results of this survey show that while the retail industry is often considered to be at the forefront of consumer experience innovation, there’s still a long way to go to meet shopper expectations. What this means is the opportunity for retailers to improve the relationship with consumers is tremendous.”