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Customers want fitting rooms to reopen; not ready for product testing yet

Shoppers are ready for some parts of the store experience to return but not all. And safety remains top of mind. 

Seventy-seven percent of shoppers want to be able to try on clothes again in fitting rooms this year, but only 36% would like to see beauty and wellness product testing return, according to research by retail payments and shopping service Klarna. The company surveyed more than 41,000 shoppers across the U.S. to understand the pandemic’s lasting impact on consumer spending behavior. 

Safety precautions will be the top priority for 74% of consumers for shopping in-store, even when the country opens up more widely, the report found.  Deals and discounts are also an important draw for 73% of those planning to shop in brick-and-mortar stores this year, followed by fast and convenient pickup and returns (63%) and the availability of customer service (46%).

Additional findings are below:

Stores have an instant gratification advantage. The top reasons shoppers head to physical retail stores are to touch and try on products (79%), purchase products instantly (67%), browse and discover new products (56%), and return items quickly (34%).

Shoppers prefer to shop for apparel and footwear in-store. Apparel is consumers’ top category to shop for in-store, cited by 60% of survey respondents, followed by footwear (58%), home goods (51%) and beauty (47%). 

Expect safety precautions to become permanent additions to brick-and-mortar. Seventy-seven percent of shoppers would like hand sanitizing stations permanently adopted by physical retail stores, and 21% would also like temperature checks to be integrated permanently in-store. Forty-six percent of baby-boomers would like plastic barriers to remain at checkout.

Shoppers would visit an online brand’s physical store if they could. 83% of shoppers say that they would shop in-store at their favorite online-only brand if the brand were to open a brick-and-mortar store in their area.

Shoppers agree that touchless features improve the in-store experience. When it comes to in-store technologies, contactless payments and buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options are overwhelming favorites. Eighty-one percent of shoppers agree that the availability of BOPIS has improved their shopping experience and 61% said that contactless payments have also elevated their experience in physical stores. The majority of shoppers would like BOPIS options adopted permanently by retail stores (77%), along with contactless payments (62%).

“Shoppers miss the physical elements of the in-store experience that can only be offered in a brick-and-mortar setting, like fitting rooms. However, they also have new expectations around what the in-store shopping journey should look like,” said David Sykes, head of U.S. at Klarna. “Our latest research shows that safety will remain a top concern for consumers, even as the world reopens, so retailers must adapt their in-store experience to provide shoppers with greater confidence and peace of mind. Buy online, pick up in-store options, contactless payments, QR codes, and safety features as simple as hand sanitizer are simple solutions proven to resonate with today’s shoppers.”

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