High Streets Initiative · 20 September 2017

Retailers must “throw away the old rule book” to revive in-store shopping

One in five shoppers were frustrated at not seeing the full selection of stock
One in five shoppers were frustrated at not seeing the full selection of stock

Three-quarters of UK consumers believe high street retailers fail to understand how they want to shop, according to new research, as experts call for a reinvention of in-store shopping.

The study, undertaken by retail research group Ominco, took the views of 1,215 British consumers to reveal the areas where bricks and mortar retailers struggle to meet the expectations of shoppers.

Insufficient customer service was the most commonly cited frustration, with over a quarter of respondents urging retailers to go further in meeting their requirements.

Meanwhile, a fifth claimed confusion over whether they were getting the best possible deal was the biggest issue when browsing high street stores.

For another one in five, not being able to see the full range of stock in-store spoiled their experience.

Despite improvement in some areas – in 2016, 81 per cent of consumers were unsatisfied with the in-store shopping experience – Mel Taylor, Ominco Group CEO, said “UK [is] retail getting worse at meeting many of the requirements of busy UK consumers”.

“Consumers are still finding significant disappointment in the various ways in which they interact with retailers – a problem that must be addressed,” Taylor warned.

Overall, shoppers were more likely to be frustrated with in-store shopping than the online experience.

Our Bricks & Clicks video series is helping retailers strike a balance between growing a brand online and establishing a physical presence

Learning from ecommerce

As ecommerce continues to grab a growing market share of retail sales, ramping up pressure on traditional bricks and mortar shop owners, the study found that the online experience had subtly shifted the expectations of consumers when shopping in-store.

Over a quarter of respondents expected online personalisation to be mirrored in the physical environment – double the figure registered in the same study in 2016.

To help independent retailers move forwards, Omnico pointed to Amazon as an example of harnessing in-store data collection. Technology such as iBeacons and RFID tags, the study claimed, can alert shop assistants to the presence of “VIP customers” and their purchasing preferences.

In general, consumers wanted greater speed and convenience when shopping in-store. Mobile payments, personalisation and stronger emphasis on “experiences”, i.e. through food, drinks or leisure activities, were cited as helping to bring traditional retailers into line with consumer expectations.

Cathy McCabe, founder and CEO of consultancy Retail Reimagined, urged store owners to look further ahead.

“Despite investment in new technology most retailers are still finding it hard to throw out the old retail rule books particularly when reinventing the in-store experience,” she said.

Exclusive findings: How independent retailers plan on surviving the current plight of high street business

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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