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In-store shoppers want to be left alone—but only until a certain point

When it comes to checking out, even younger shoppers opt for a human touch.

According to a study of Millennials and Gen Zers by strategic retail advisory firm HRC Retail Advisory (HRC), 83% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping in-store. Preferring to be left alone by sales associates, these shoppers use their phones to do everything from compare costs to read online reviews before making a purchase decision. However, when it comes to checkout, shoppers’ self-reliance and enthusiasm for using their smartphone shifts sharply, with 72% of respondents surveyed saying they would prefer to check-out from a sales associate.

The study also revealed the most popular in-store features are those that create a more flexible and convenient experience. For example, 76% of shoppers ranked the option to buy online and pick up in store as a valuable store experience, and 67% cited the ability to reserve products online and try on in-store as important.

Also, most shoppers surveyed shared that dressing room technology, in-store events and personal shoppers were not considered as valuable as technology that enables them to buy when and how they like.

The HRC report makes clear how integral smartphones are to the shopping experience. Among those shoppers who reported using their smartphone in-store, more than half are using them to inform their product purchase decisions. In other study findings:

• Fifty-nine percent of all shoppers surveyed said that they use smartphones in-store to compare costs or search for deals and coupons.
• Fifty-one percent said that they use their smartphones while shopping to share pictures of products in an effort to solicit opinions from family and friends.
• Forty-seven percent use smartphones to read product reviews and 46% using mobile devices to research product information.

“Smartphones are an instrumental part of the shopping journey and have become a pseudo- salesperson for the consumer,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC. “Retailers must understand the connections shoppers have to their mobile devices and merge offline and online channels to create a seamless experience in-store. By giving shoppers access to mobile offers, providing free Wi-Fi and empowering sales associates with smartphones or tablets to provide relevant product information, retailers can earn back customer loyalty and provide an intuitive, enjoyable store experience.”

HRC Retail Advisory’s survey findings are based on a targeted sample of two distinct demographics: Millennials (ages 18–41) and Generation Zers (children ages 10–17).
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