In a hybrid world, shoppers are selecting retailers that blend in-store experiences with digital conveniences built on conversational messaging, a survey of 3000 shoppers around the world has found.
According to messaging company Sinch, shoppers prefer retailers that super-charge the in-person experience by layering on a level of automation and efficiency before they even enter the store.
For example, a whopping 92% of consumers would message a chatbot to check if a product is in stock before making a trip to the store, while 73% want to visit a store and then make a final purchase on their mobile phones, often from within the store itself, the study finds.
Consumers are open to messaging or chatting with retailers, but are frustrated by one-sided conversations or delayed responses.
Shoppers are also open to messaging retailers for initiating product returns, exchanges and refunds (90%), getting updates on items left in their online carts (89%) or completing a customer satisfaction survey (77%). However, more than half (53%) are frustrated when they can’t respond to mobile messages from businesses.
A similar number (54%) have messaged a retailer on a social platform, believing it a faster path to answers than going to a store, sending an email or making a phone call.
Yet only a quarter of the queries receive an instant response, while 75% of those messages take anywhere from several hours to more than a day — or, they go completely unanswered. These delays carry real consequences, particularly as more consumers are making purchases directly through these social media channels after viewing products in store and driving the majority of them (54 percent) to shop elsewhere.
“Just as it has in our home and work lives, the line between physical and digital experiences when shopping has become increasingly blurred. The winners this holiday shopping season will be the retailers that do more than just optimize online and in-store processes. Adding rich messaging, chatbots or other conversational technologies into the mix will meet shoppers how and where they want to engage,” says Jonathan Bean, Chief Marketing Officer, Sinch. “Direct messaging — and its inferred immediacy — is woven into every aspect of consumers’ lives, and they clearly expect brands and retailers to keep pace, or they will take their business elsewhere.”