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Retailers missing the mark in delivering exceptional omni-channel shopping experiences

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Research by RetailNext Inc, a US retail analytics specialist that optimizes shopper experiences at brick-and-mortar retail stores, shows a growing discrepancy between shopper and retailer perceptions and expectations when it comes to omni-channel retail experience – and that many retail stores lack the essential technology to measure and apply shopper data across all channels.

Forrester Consulting completed the January 2016 commissioned study on behalf of RetailNext, and conducted in-depth surveys with 500 consumers and 150 retail decision-makers in the US and UK to develop the findings..

“Today’s shoppers have tremendous information and choice at their fingertips, and with this access to information they are quickly and not-so-quietly reinventing their shopping experiences, and in turn the retail industry,” said Bridget Johns, head of marketing and customer experience at RetailNext. “This new study not only emphasizes that retailers must rethink what makes for exceptional in-store experiences, but also shows a growing need to blend brand operations cross-channel to better reflect the new shopping journeys on which shoppers now embark”

The key findings of the study reveal that physical retail is alive and persisting – and increasingly influenced by digital. Today’s new shopping journeys recognize the value of physical retail and its particular set of competitive advantages, such as the ability to experience products and services and interact with sales associates.

However, shoppers also require seamless cross-channel experiences, and only 49 percent of consumer respondents feel they receive consistent experiences across all channels.

The study also finds that retailers don’t understand what matters most to shoppers. Retailers are experiencing a disconnect between strategy and tactics and what shoppers want most, such as consistent pricing across channels and the ability to make returns regardless of the channel where the initial purchase was made. Seventy-nine percent of shoppers reported pricing consistency as a critical or important requirement, while just 52 percent of retailers agreed.

The role of the sales associate isalso evolving. Today’s digitally-empowered, smartphone-wielding shoppers expect on-demand sales associates who are facilitators of exceptional shopping experiences. However, just 29 percent of consumer respondents feel sales associates are knowledgeable and helpful.

However, retailers are not measuring customer behavior, especially in-store. Retailers understand and agree that in-store technology drives both operational excellence and the overall digital customer experience. However, retailers overwhelmingly struggle to measure customer behavior, and surprisingly few reported the use of Key Performance Indicator (KPI) metrics in-store, with just 33 percent of retailers reporting they always measure conversion rates.

In addition to sharing the survey results and findings through the final study and an accompanying infographic, RetailNext is also highlighting the survey at the National Retail Federation’s annual The BIG Show in New York City, January 17-19.

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