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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

Shoppers feel more comfortable with self checkout

Shoppers are becoming increasingly used to do-it-yourself self checkout (SCO) technology, with 40 per cent having used it in the last six months and 60 per cent saying it improved their customer experience.

An annual report on consumer shopping behaviour by retail technology firm Zebra found that 86 per cent of shoppers stated ‘comfort’ with self checkouts.

The Global Shopper Study was based on 4,811 shoppers, 1,100 retail associates and 435 retail executives from North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

A majority of shoppers (58 per cent) - especially Millennials (70 per cent) - agreed that self checkout provided an improved customer experience, while a majority of store associates (54 per cent) also said staffed checkout areas were less necessary with new technology that automates the process.

Nearly nine-in-10 retail executives (87 per cent) believed that self-checkout freed up store associates to better serve customers, while 81 per cent reported that they had started to see a return on their investment in the technology.

In Europe and the Middle East, two thirds of shoppers reported satisfaction with their ability to pay anywhere in the store, although just 14 per cent of shoppers said they completely trusted retailers to protect their personal data.

The study also found that three quarters of those classed as Millennial shoppers, and more than half (53 per cent) of Generation X shoppers, indicated they shopped in a store and left without a purchase, only to end up buying the item online.

The main reason for retailers losing in-store purchases to online shopping is due to issues with inventory management, particularly out-of-stocks, with both shoppers and retail associates expressing dissatisfaction with the number of out-of-stock products.

The report also highlighted a disconnect between retailers’ perceptions of customer satisfaction and actual reported satisfaction among shoppers, with 77 per cent of retail executives believing customers were satisfied with the in-store experience, while only 57 per cent of shoppers reported feeling satisfied.

However, investments in mobile solutions have fostered agreement among executives (85 per cent) and store associates (73 per cent), with the majority agreeing that equipping associates with the latest technology provides a better experience for all concerned.

Other technology investments are also paying off, the study found, with retailers trialling the use of robotics, although the roll-out of such solutions is taking place slowly, with seven per cent of surveyed shoppers saying they interacted with a robot in a retail environment in the last six months.

However, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) said they were comfortable with them, while 32 per cent of store associates reported concerns about being replaced by one.

Anees Haidri, director of global retail market strategy at Zebra Technologies, said: “Our study shows that while better services will help retain current shoppers and attract new ones, retailers need to make sure they have the basics right when it comes to product availability, ease of finding products, returns and exchanges.

“To win with shoppers today, retailers must deliver the seamless, multi-channel experience that customers expect and leverage technology to provide more personalised services for managing inventory and building smarter operations.”

 

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