Almost three-quarters of retailers are ramping up digital investment in an effort to increase customer satisfaction, boost customer loyalty and drive sales, with mobile holding the key to all three – plus allowing retailers to learn what shoppers do in store, closing the omni-channel data circle.
According to the research by RetailMeNot, operator of VoucherCodes.co.uk, retailers are now very conscious of the fact that increasing their digital investment is the key to meeting customer expectations in the midst of this digital revolution. This is also reflected in the number of retailers already offering some kind of digital solution as part of the customer experience; 9 in 10 (88%) leading multi-channel retailers are already offering real-time promotions in order to enhance the physical store experience, whilst four-fifths (80%) allow shoppers to check stock ability.
When asked what is expected to be the biggest business advantage of leveraging mobile technology in-store, three-fifths of British retailers (59%) stated driving customer loyalty and retention to be the primary reason, followed by a more satisfying in-store shopping experience for 55%
Despite recognising the need to collaborate all avenues of the customer experience, the majority of retailers (59%) say connecting in-store sales to online accounts is the biggest hurdles regularly faced. While they have many insights about how their customers behave online, they only know little about how these same people shop in physical stores.
What’s more, even large retailers are still struggling to deliver a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. 38% of the UK retailers interviewed for this study admitted that their prices are not always consistent across the different channels and only 39% of them have moved from a siloed approach with separate teams for mobile, instore and online retail towards one integrated retail team.
Today’s shoppers are channel agnostic – they want the same deals from the same company, regardless of the channel it is on, and it is imperative for retailers to deliver this. They now have an unprecedented ability to check offers and compare prices on the same or similar products – even when standing right there in the store.
A staggering 96% of retailers recognise this as a fundamental problem that must be addressed, whilst a third admit to not having a strategy in place to resolve this issue.
Retailers are now embracing the intrinsic strength of mobile, and 98% leverage it to drive in-store sales, with two-thirds of retailers offering both a mobile optimised website as well as an app. Amongst the most popular initiatives they are planning to invest in over the next 12 months to improve the in-store performance are mobile payment solutions (80%) followed by partnering with their party apps to promote their offers (76%) and the development of their mobile app (65%)
Consumers are ready to embrace technology
An overwhelming majority (86%) of shoppers flit between multiple channels during the shopping journey, allowing customers to research products, gather store information, compare prices and check availability. Mobile can also help to drive sales in-store by making specific offers available and by promoting services like Click and Collect. With 9 in 10 consumers admitting to embracing this technology and ‘show-rooming’ in order to locate the best deals and discover more information demonstrates just how ready Brits are to integrate technology into the shopping cycle.
When asked what would have the biggest impact on their shopping experience, British consumers suggested the ability to check stock availability online as the most important (42%). Shoppers also highlighted the possibility to order out-of-stock items in-store (39%) whilst a third (31%) expect to find Click-and-Collect services.
However, when looking at their track record, it seems most UK consumers have not yet used a digital coupon in-store, revealing a massive sizeable opportunity for both retailers and shoppers alike. Whilst over 17 billion digital coupons were available in the UK in 2015, the large majority was redeemed online and only one third of shoppers have yet used a digital voucher in-store.
Severine Philardeau, VP of Retail and Brand Solutions at VoucherCodes.co.uk, RetailMeNot explains: “We are still at the very beginning of a massive transformation of the retail landscape. The way consumers shop has changed, and as a result their expectations are no longer the same. Mobile has now become an integral part of the shopping experience, both online and in-store, and what’s more important, it can bridge the online experience with the high-street and bring people back into the physical stores. It is therefore not surprising that almost three quarters of leading multichannel retailers in the UK are planning to increase their investment into digital technology to drive in-store sales.”
Philardeau continues: “The high street experience has not lost its value and is still very important to consumers, with 90% of European sales still happening in the bricks-and-mortar. Whilst online sales are still growing, and this is now mainly driven by mobile, we also see a general integration of technology into the shopping experience. Retailers are now looking to move towards one unified omnichannel experience, finding new and innovative ways to increase footfall and drive instore sales”.
The research was carried out in the first four months of 2016 by WBR Digital, which have conducted phone interviews with 200 marketing executives from leading European multichannel retail brands. The markets covered in this report include the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands.