With numerous new apps and devices to make online shopping quick and easy, there has never been more pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers to bring the same convenience in-store. According to SOTI’s Annual Connected Retailer Survey, U.S. consumers are demanding a more convenient shopping experience with less human interaction and more mobile technology and in-store innovation than ever before.
In-store mobile technology
Through a survey that looked at U.S. consumers’ shopping habits both online and in-store, 76% of respondents indicated that retailers that utilize more mobile technology (both self-service and used by sales associates) enable a quicker shopping experience, an increase from 67% last year. Additionally, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents were in favor of self-service technologies to improve the retail shopping experience and reduce staff interactions, up 10.6% from last year.
“SOTI’s Connected Retail survey indicates that consumers desire technology that enables a quicker and more convenient in-store shopping experience with limited human interaction. These results prove the critical role that mobile technology plays in reducing many of the challenges of the seamless customer experience through solutions that reduce cost, complexity, and downtime in a secured for mobile, yet accessible fashion,” says Shash Anand, VP of product strategy at SOTI. “In an era where mobility can be taken to endless possibilities, retailers need to evolve beyond traditional mobile technology management to capitalize on new customer expectations quickly and efficiently.”
Anand continues, “Retailers need to invest in platforms that provide a holistic mobile experience—from the ability to build mobile apps, that are both consumer- and sales associate-facing, manage critical processes, to being able to quickly troubleshoot devices on the floor to reduce downtime, and ultimately customer frustration.”
The right solutions
When it comes to arming sales associates with the right mobile solutions, consumers were dramatically more in favor of supplying them with technology to improve their experience than they were in 2017, which makes this all the more evident that retail continues to evolve and customer expectations never stand still. These technologies included:
- Handheld or fixed devices to check inventory and prices (85.3% in 2018 compared to 56.5% in 2017; a 50.97% increase)
- Mobile register (41.7% in 2018 compared to 25.5% in 2017; a 64.28% increase)
- Handheld device to communicate with back room (22.3% in 2018 compared to 17.2% in 2017; a 29.65% increase)
- None (13.3% in 2018 compared to 35.2% in 2017; a 62.2% decrease)
Mobile apps are not the only competition brick and mortar stores face. This holiday season, Amazon announced a record breaking number of its devices sold with its Echo Dot smart speaker being one of its best sellers. Virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home have promised to change the way consumers shop, but according to SOTI’s survey, only 25% of consumers with a virtual assistant have used it for voice-activated shopping.
“With companies that have transformed how society uses technology—like Facebook, Google, and Amazon—backing Virtual Assistants, we are keeping a keen eye on how these voice-activated technologies can be used in store by both consumers and associates. We suspect that by next holiday season, we will see more stores leveraging voice activation to improve the physical shopping experience.”
Consumer shipping innovations
Mobile technology not only has the capability to transform where consumers buy, but it can also transform the methods in how they receive what they buy. Sixty-four percent of consumers expressed that they would be comfortable with new shipping methods offered by retailers, up only 6% from last year. Consumers are significantly more comfortable with retailers and transportation companies using drones, 37.07%, an increase of 28.82% since last year, and autonomous vehicles, 35.5%, an increase of 26.96%.
Anand concludes, “While there has been a steady increase in the desire for new delivery options, few companies are leading the pack in employing these methods such as Amazon and technologies like Hello Alfred. Mobile technology and IoT devices afford the opportunity to make these distribution methods a reality and we expect to see retailers adopt more modern solutions to meet consumers innovative demands.”