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Retailers can’t keep pace with consumers’ digital preferences

Retailers are scrambling to leverage technology required to offer a digitally driven shopping experience.

Consumers said digital influences up to 75% of their pre-store visits, and it’s leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences. Yet, less than half of retailers deliver on the most important digital capabilities that customers desire, according to “Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations,” a report from Boston Retail Partners.

According to data, consumers are more likely to shop at retailers that align next-generation technologies to their digital preferences, and understand the impact. These customers are after more frictionless and relevant shopping experiences, however, in many cases, retailers still don’t offer the capabilities that impact consumers’ shopping preferences.

For example, 68% of consumers are more likely to shop a retailer that offers automated returns capability versus one that doesn’t. Yet, only 8% of retailers offer this service. Similarly, 65% of consumers want to use proximity-triggered mobile coupons, but only 8% of companies offer them. Smart fitting rooms appeal to 53% of shoppers, but only 18% of retailers feature them.

Meanwhile, 48% consumers would shop at a retail brand that offered the opportunity to see products in a virtual environment. Currently, 15% of retailers offer this capability.

Among the retailers that do understand that technology can help close this gap and attract shoppers, 35% of companies are investing in mobile POS in the next 12 months, as well as mobile apps for in-store use (32%). Meanwhile, 30% are currently piloting customer Wi-Fi, 20% are testing self-checkout, and 17% enable customers to pay via mobile checkout, according to data.

Despite these efforts, retailers still have an enormous execution gap to overcome.

“Very few retailers offer the next generation digital technologies, like automated returns and proximity-triggered mobile coupons, that could significantly influence future purchase decisions,” said Brian Brunk, principal, BRP. “Retailers must transform and quickly close the digital gap to remain relevant with their customer.”
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