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Shoppers returning to stores but 3/4 prefer delivery, survey finds


Most shoppers (75%) prefer the option to have items delivered and 64% opt for retailers who offer in-store pick-up, according to a new survey from Zebra Technologies.

Zebra’s 15th Annual Global Shopper Study confirmed that shoppers are returning to stores in similar numbers seen prior to the pandemic, but most (76%) want to get in and out as quickly as possible. They have therefore embraced self-serve habits and are increasingly using “do-it-yourself” technology in stores, allowing more associates more time on the floor to help shoppers.

The survey also found seven-in-10 prefer shopping both in-store and online, as well as favouring online retailers that also offer brick-and-mortar locations. Nearly half of retailers surveyed are converting space in their stores for order pick-up, supporting consumer fulfilment preferences.

Additionally, when it comes to reverse logistics: eight-in-10 shoppers prioritise their spending with retailers that offer easy returns.

“Shoppers don’t see channels, they see one shopping experience however they shop,” said Matthew Guiste, retail industry lead, Zebra Technologies. “The days of siloed, omni-channel operations are out of step with how people shop today. A unified commerce approach can help retailers meet shoppers how they shop—online, in store, social, mobile, or any combination—and improve their overall experience.”

While nearly eight-in-10 shoppers are concerned about inflationary price increases on everyday essentials, they’re not necessarily leaving stores without the items they wanted due to price. Associates expressed out-of-stock complaints as their number one frustration, with 76% of shoppers leaving without the items they intended to purchase and 49% blaming out-of-stocks. Retailers are painfully aware; 80% acknowledge maintaining real-time visibility of out-of-stocks is a significant challenge, and they need better inventory management tools for accuracy and availability.

To further improve the shopping experience, eight-in-10 retailers surveyed expect to enable more associates/ seasonal staff to help customers and pick/fulfil online orders for the 2022 holiday season. This also addresses another challenge cited by three-quarters of surveyed retailers: improving online fulfilment efficiency and expense.

“After 15 years of studying shoppers, associates, and retailers, one constant is clear—retail is always changing,” Guiste added. “The expectations, experiences, and behaviours of shoppers, associates and retail executives continue to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace.

“Only when technology and people come together, both in vision for tomorrow and ability to execute today, can retailers consistently deliver the experiences customers expect. Retail is at a point where technology isn’t just a want or nice to have—it’s a must have.”

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