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… but High Street stores far from dead as tech drives shoppers to return in 2017, says study

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Reports of the death of High Street stores may well be premature, with a new survey finding that rather than abandoning shops, many consumers plan to use them even more in 2017 – however, they want technology to make the experience better.

So finds the 2017 TimeTrade State of Retail survey, which suggests that 70% of shoppers plan to shop in stores as much as they did in 2016 and 14% even more, with many starting to ‘reverse showroom’, where they check out product details online and then use that, via their mobile, in store to make a final purchase decision.

Three quarters of shoppers quizzed in the study admit to reverse showrooing sometimes or most of the time, but that they want to go in-store as High Street stores have the key asset being where people can go to see and feel products and receive personalized service. Online shopping is popular, but people are far more likely to treat online stores as their showroom—researching online and then buying in- store.

The TimeTrade research shows people still value things such as good old-fashioned helpful service from a store assistant, being able to try clothes on before buying, and not having to pay for shipping.

However, many shoppers are wanting a more personalised experience once they get into the store and, in response, many retailers are looking at how to move from being mere purveyors of goods to being more all-round consumer resource centres, says the report.

Some 54% of shoppers valued prompt service above smart recommendations, and even personalized experiences— two crucial elements of online shopping, says the study. Traditional brick-and-mortar shops are not easily able to provide these three elements of retail shopping without the assistance of mobile and desktop sites, especially in the digital age when 6%8 of millennials demand a seamless shopping experience across all platforms.

One of the ways brick-and-mortar retailers can deliver prompt, highly personalized service is by enabling shoppers to schedule appointments for the day and time most convenient for them. But it’s in retailers’ best interests to look into using all resources, online and offline to gain customer confidence.

According to the TimeTrade’s survey, 57% of shoppers felt they received prompt, personal service when they knew that store associates were collaborating on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones to help them.

So, customers are still planning on shopping in stores, but retailers need to keep up with mobile trends if they expect to keep their doors open.

This is backed up by data from global electronic shelf label provider, Displaydata, which suggests that stores need to embrace shelf-level technology to tap into this mood for in-store shopping.

“We know that 90% of sales are still made in the store and that 82% of brand switch decisions happen at the shelf level – however, many retailers have yet to create unique in-store experiences powered by shelf-edge technologies that not only provide personalized in-store experiences but also eliminate any cause a shopper might have to leave the store for the competitor down the street,” says Paul Milner, Marketing Director, Displaydata. “The shelf edge is arguably the most important sales channel, and in today’s highly competitive retail environment, printed labels simply cannot keep pace with shoppers’ demands. Electronic shelf labels, however, have the ability to send location-based and personalized offers to a customer’s smartphone, as well as give them access to the most up-to-date pricing, stock levels, social reviews, currency details, and more. Survey after survey show us that shoppers ‘really want’ in-store personalization. We believe retailers should be looking a lot closer at the shelf edge to make that ‘want’ happen.”

And it can all pay for itself, says the TimeTrade report. According to its data, nearly half of shoppers would be willing to pay more for products or services if they had a highly personalized in-store experience.

In short, the majority of shoppers don’t just want technology, they want that technology to be catered to their own shopping experiences. Retailers can’t a ord to ignore this trend—in fact, they’d be better o to jump onto the bandwagon as soon as they can to keep up with the competition.

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