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Survey: Canadian retailers investing in customer experience

In today’s competitive Canadian retail landscape, wowing customers is more critical than ever.

Mirroring many of the initiatives currently underway in the United States, a recent American Express survey found that Canadian retailers are focusing on improving the in-store experience while investing in new technologies to provide seamless shopping experiences.

According to the sixth annual "Canadian Retail Insights Report" by American Express Canada, 97% of retailers agree that improving the in-store experience is important and 69% agree investing in new technology is integral to driving business success. More than half (58%) of retailers surveyed said they plan to make more updates to the in-store experience this year.

When it comes to enhancing in-store shopping, forward-looking retailers have their eyes on emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the customer experience.

The data revealed 29% of retailers are interested in investing in new technologies like automation or data personalization and 14% are looking to artificial intelligence or augmented reality to provide a better in-store experience.

Retailers also are leveraging new automated payment technologies to improve checkout and provide seamless payments options. In fact, 82% of retailers surveyed that adopted new payments practices in the past 12 months said they did so to meet customer expectations. Key types of payments technologies adopted by retailers this year includes mobile wallet (66%), in-app payments (49%), tablet POS (45%) and web portal payments (28%).

Additional findings include:

*Nine-out-of-10 retailers surveyed have a positive business outlook for the year ahead.

*Fifty-two percent said their sales have increased over the last year and, of those, 72% attribute the growth to a focus on delivering better customer experiences – beating out new products and improved product quality.

*To integrate online and offline experience, 45% of retailers surveyed said they’re making investments in online fulfillment solutions like “buy online, pick up in store,” email and text marketing (42%), payments technology (38%) and mobile apps (38%).

“It’s not good enough to be good anymore; retailers need to be unforgettable,” said Kerri-Ann Santaguida, VP and general manager, Merchant Services, American Express Canada. “With emerging technologies poised to disrupt the industry, the stakes have never been so high. Businesses can’t afford to ignore these trends as they have the potential to completely transform the customer experience and grow market share if executed well.”

The survey was conducted within Canada by The Nielsen Co., on behalf of American Express from March 27 to April 20, 2018, among 375 Canadian grocery stores, general retailers, gas stations, restaurants and fast food restaurants.
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