Independent retail owners adopting in-store technology to create a personalised and efficient customer experience could be the first to win shoppers from high street chains this Christmas, new research has suggested.
After polling 1,000 UK consumers, business technology provider First Data found that one in five were currently reluctant to shop at independent retail stores this Christmas season for fear of overcrowding and long queues.
In fact, long queues turned out to be the greatest high street Christmas shopping bugbear for consumers, cited by 42 per cent of respondents. This was followed by loud Christmas music and a shortage of tills and service points.
Subsequently, a third said that greater use of in-store technology that reduced queueing time would encourage them to visit high street independents. Meanwhile, a fifth of shoppers said a lack of alternative payment methods to cash would put them off visiting small businesses at Christmas.
However, the research also uncovered the unique benefits to high street shopping not found online or at corporate competitors.
Overall, almost six in ten consumers said they enjoyed heading to independent retailers for their Christmas shopping, with over half of those citing greater personalisation compared to larger chains as the primary benefit.
Personalised discounts for products, Christmas gift wrapping and knowledgeable staff were all voiced as advantages of shopping at independent retailers.
Despite the clear advantages, a number of concerns were voiced by shoppers. Aside from payment options, consumers feared that independent retail stores would give less value for money and be more likely to have a desired item out of stock than larger stores.
Commenting on the research, Richard Simon, commercial director at First Data, said investment in in-store technology would be crucial in competing with larger businesses.
“Christmas shopping can be stressful time and this research highlights that it is essential independent retailers listen to what consumers want in order to maximise their profitability this festive season,” he said.
“Busy shoppers are looking for a fast, hassle-free Christmas shopping experience. Convenience is paramount, eliminating long queues and ensuring there is a smooth payment mechanism is vital to offering a quality service.”
Find out how high street retailers are capitalising on the growing demand for in-store experiences
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.