Mobile tech transforms the Australian retail experience
Australian consumers want a faster in-store retail experience complemented by customer service-enhancing technologies, according to a survey conducted by SOTI.
The international research, which surveyed consumers in Australia, North America, the UK and Europe, delivered some surprising results.
Immediacy is critical for retailers
The importance of ‘immediacy’ is critical to physical retail stores today, with the research finding that 64% of consumers choose to visit a store to buy a product there and then.
“Above all, consumers want in-store technology that saves them time,” said Michael Dyson, Managing Director Australia & New Zealand, SOTI.
“Retailers need to understand that consumers are shopping differently than before, and technology needs to be integrated to meet their needs and desire for convenience.”
To make the acquisition of goods as efficient as possible, Australian consumers prefer stores that incorporate technologies that automate the purchasing process. More than half (52%) of respondents indicated a preference for retail stores that incorporated self-service technologies which made retail purchases faster and easier. A further 36.78% of consumers highlighted a preference for stores with queue-busting technologies like mobile payment devices, to avoid checkout congestion.
There is also a clear preference in the types of technologies shoppers want to use in physical stores, with research finding that over 65% of local consumers prefer self-checkout. This was followed by consumers wanting other technologies available including digital devices to check product pricing (43%), digital kiosks where you can check product information and location in store (37%) and digital devices to check inventories in the current and other stores (25%).
Adoption of in-store technology
According to the survey, over half of Australian consumers (56%) would be comfortable to shop in a store that only supported online or card payment (no cash) today, with just 18% indicating they would not shop in such a retail store. However, while Australians are embracing cashless shopping, almost half of consumers (45%) would not be comfortable shopping in stores that offered only self-service technologies and without support staff.
Interestingly, the UK survey found that 80% of UK consumers would be comfortable in a retail setting where only self-checkout was available, and the US survey found that 77% would be comfortable with this.
“Australian shoppers are increasingly comfortable making electronic in-store purchases today to expedite the shopping experience. However, while other global markets appear very open to fully automated retail experiences, many Australians still show a preference for human interaction when they visit a store,” said Michael.
Why Australians go in-store
While online shopping continues to grow in popularity, for the majority of Australian consumers, physical retail stores still have their place as part of the shopping experience.
When asked what they value most about visiting a physical retail store, over 71% of respondents said that being able to see, touch and feel the product they were shopping for was still an important factor. And second to that was being able to try on and test the product (69%).
Technology delivers a better in-store experience
Beyond delivering a more efficient retail experience, Australians prefer in-store retail environments that utilise technology to enhance the customer experience.
When it comes to which type of mobile technology consumers consider to make their shopping experience better, 45% highlighted handheld mobile devices provided by store associates that can display stock balance, pricing, stock levels online or at other stores. Consumer surveys conducted by SOTI in the US and the UK found even stronger preferences for in-store technology, with 76% of US consumers and 69% of UK consumers indicating they had a better in-store experience when technology was integrated.
SOTI surveyed 503 consumers across Australia, 565 from the US and 1000 from the UK/Europe.
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