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A third of consumers want staff armed with tablets as shopper patience dwindles

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UK consumers are losing patience with out-dated shop floor customer service, according to research released from Red Ant. And technology is the key to making it better.

The study of 2,000 UK consumers revealed shop assistants’ product knowledge is simply not up to scratch – 37 per cent voted this as the most annoying trait of sales staff, with more than one in five choosing to answer their in-store questions on their personal smartphones rather than asking a sales assistant. Technology was referenced throughout the findings as a source for improving customer service – one in three (34 per cent) said assistants should be armed with tablets.

In fact, The UK Shopper Satisfaction Study found that 38% of consumers will leave a shop if they have waited less than three minutes for an assistant to return from a stock enquiry. The retail technology expert, Red Ant, reveals that 43 per cent believe in-store experiences are failing to keep up with the times, as online retail continues to become more intuitive and effective.

To support the UK Shopper Satisfaction Study, Red Ant partnered with Imperial College to better understand retailers’ opinions on the growing use of employee-facing mobile technology on the shop floor. Based on interviews with corporate executives from 17 high street retail brands, decision makers from across the business spectrum are curious about mobile solutions but there is still a cautiousness that stems from a lack of education – examples include “vague knowledge of the functionalities” and “how such systems could add value to their business”.

UK high street retailers acknowledge that the implementation of mobile is a cultural shift for businesses, as well as a technological one, but claim it’s a small step towards a future-ready strategy.

One leading women’s underwear retailer, and early adopter of employee-facing mobile technology, reported staff initially using their tablets as a “shield” and highlighted the importance of an “in-depth on-boarding program”.

Retailers that have embraced in-store mobile technology evident significant success, with a well-known consumer electronics brand stating: “It engages customers, enabling a much better demonstration of what a product is capable of doing and the functionality of a product… standing beside somebody and sharing something on an iPad, I think… the quality of contact is much higher”.

Dan Mortimer, CEO of Red Ant, says: “Clearly the service experience on many of the UK’s high streets is failing to meet consumer expectations. Online commerce has evolved and improved significantly over the last five years, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that in-store retail is starting to feel a bit underwhelming in comparison. Progressive retailers should be looking at ways that they can take the best of ecommerce, integrate it into in-store environments, and use it effectively to improve the customer experience.”

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