Fashion shoppers want to enjoy meaningful in-store experiences, and would rather be helped by friendly and knowledgeable staff than by a robot or through a touchscreen device, new research suggests.
At the same time, suggests the Understanding and Influencing the Customer Journey for Fashion report series, two-thirds of fashion customers do not trust retailers with their personal data.
The series, from consultancy Retail Economics, and commissioned by law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper, questioned more than 2,000 UK adults in order to find out what customers thought about issues from automated services and personal data sharing through to in-store experience and data. The first report focuses on the awareness and search phase, in which retailers and brands aim to engage with customers across a range of channels and touchpoints.
It found that more than half of respondents said they would be more loyal to stores that offered a ‘meaningful in-store experience’. And almost half said they did not want to be helped by a robot or to use a touchscreen device for customer services. Just 13% were keen on the idea of virtual fitting rooms – but just over a third said they would shop in a clothing store that showed extended product ranges for delivery only.
Half said they would not want to share personal data such as body shape, weight or height in order to get better product recommendations. The study suggested that some would even be willing to pay more for goods and services from a retailer that did not use data to send them promotions.
Richard Lim, chief executive of Retail Economics, said: “The pace of technological disruption in retail is not set to slow down, with disruptive technologies forecast to be engrained in the sector over the next five years. The experience economy will continue to gain traction as well, as consumers become disenchanted with the abundance of goods they have access to.
“However, the future customer journey is underpinned by data. And if retailers and brands cannot build enough trust to capture sufficient shopper information to personalise, then the deeper engagements that will help retail experiences thrive over the next decade will be undermined.”
Gavin Stenton, co-head of fashion and luxury brands and commercial, IP & IT partner, at Penningtons Manches Cooper, said: “While a single cross-platform customer experience that blurs the lines between in-store, online and on-the-go is the way forward, this report highlights the risks associated with the use of and security of customer data in achieving this. Balancing the optimal mix of value over perceived intrusion will therefore become a head-scratching equation to solve.”