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What do shoppers returning in-store post-pandemic now expect from the experience? STUDY

Shoppers now have higher expectations of the in-store experience, a new study suggests. Image: Fotolia

What do shoppers returning in-store to buy expect from the experience? A new study suggests that while almost half of UK customers prefer to buy clothes in-store, expectations of the face-to-face experience have been raised over several years in which customers have been pushed further online. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, in-store trading restrictions combined with heath concerns meant that many UK shoppers were forced to buy ‘non-essential’ items such as clothing and footwear online. Now NTT Data UK&I has questioned 2,000 UK adults and found that many now expect more –  including that online will be brought into stores for the experience to function more efficiently. 

Almost half (47%) of respondents prefer to buy clothing on the high street, the study finds, while more than half (53%) say they expect their in-store experience to be clean and easy, thanks to more immersive, personalised and contactless services. Some 61% say they will buy in-store more often if they can use self-service and cashierless checkouts.

One in five (20%) would like QR codes on products so that they can see extra information about the product they are looking at, from prices and reviews to where an item comes from. There’s also a level of support for in-store features such as smart mirrors (16%), interactive display screens (13%), and app integrations (13%) that enable customers to choose items via an app to be sent to the fitting room or checkout while they browse the store. 

NTT says this means retailers – and especially those in the luxury sector – will need to invest in new technology and resources in-store – and that by doing so they stand to gain new insights into how and what shoppers want to buy.   

Geoff Lloyd, director of retail at NTT Data UK&I, says: “Consumers want to see more from retailers, especially after the online retail experience has evolved to become more personalised. By implementing the right, advanced digital systems to automate processes and offer additional insights, retailers can monitor their customers’ behaviours more effectively, and match the customer experience to their needs appropriately.

“Access to predictive analytics will prove especially beneficial to retailers as they start building resilience, meeting customer demands and maximising sales. Additionally, reassessing their 2023 plans and ensuring that effective strategies are in place, both online and in-store, will ensure they are offering a consistent, tech-savvy experience to their shoppers.

“Data insights are, and will continue to be, essential for retailers. Not only will these insights help brands assess what their customers want from them, but it will also help to personalise the shopping experience, building loyalty and protecting future profitability.”

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