3 Ways Big Retail Is Trying to Overcome Hybrid Shopping Experience Gap

retail shopper

Ask big retailers about big pain points as the fourth quarter’s busy season begins and you’re apt to find they’re not only dissatisfied with their existing tech but are also leery of their ability to create the hybrid eCommerce/in-store shopping experiences that consumers want now.

As a result, retail chains are scrambling to correct their underestimation of the durability of the in-store shopping experience of yore and are faced with a daunting mix of decisions as to which is the best path or solution to take.

According to PYMNTS’ new report “Big Retail’s Innovation Mandate: Convenience And Personalization,” done in collaboration with ACI Worldwide and based on surveys of 300 large  U.S. and U.K. retailers, three areas stand out as needing attention to optimize multichannel sales.

Additionally, we found a high incidence of chains qualifying as “big retail” planning to outsource these digital upgrades to third-party experts. Per the study, “51% of U.S. and 63% of U.K. retailers are planning to completely outsource payment method innovations,” with 73% of convenience stores and pharmacies outsourcing payments innovations versus 57% of general retailers, for example.

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Get your copy: Big Retail’s Innovation Mandate: Convenience And Personalization

Many Current Tools Not Cutting It

Big Retail’s frustration with its ability to deliver engaging digital customer experiences in-store or in the power of existing digital tools to help do so is evident in the data.

Roughly half the U.S. and U.K. retailers surveyed feel their mix of online and in-store experience is giving shoppers the best experiences, and that’s a big problem for the other half. The study states that “dissatisfaction is leading many retailers to launch innovation strategies designed to improve the customer experience and their digital capabilities, such as those that collect and analyze customer purchasing data.”

There’s an imperative underlying it all, as retailer surveyed say lack of balance between in-store and digital shopping tools has a direct impact on customer loyalty.

Per the study, “Most retailers stated that consumers were likely to shop elsewhere if they could not use the following in-store digital features: mobile apps, cited by 81% of retailers we surveyed; barcode and QR code scanner apps, cited by 81%; digital rewards and coupons, cited by 77%; alternative payment methods, cited by 76%; and self-service kiosks, cited by 51%.”

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Data Is the Key to Unlock Loyalty

While big U.S. retailers lead U.K. counterparts in prioritizing mobile apps (78%), in-store shopping and order for delivery (76%) and barcode and QR code scanner app integration (74%) as must-have features for customer retention, the U.K. sample is ahead in data use to power these tools.

We found that just over half (51%) of U.K. retailers are already using operational data analytics to inform retail decisions, and 24% will pursue this in the next 12 months, compared to 34% of U.S. retailers with data analytics innovations now at work, and 25% planning it for 2023.

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Making Real-Time a Reality

While integrating smartphone-assisted shopping in stores is a priority for virtually all big retailers, long-promised innovations like real-time payments are seen as a game-changer and thus loom large in the planning for big retailers we surveyed on both sides of the pond.

The study notes that at present, “43% of U.K. retailers and 33% of U.S. retailers plan to add real-time payments as an option for their consumers in the near future. Innovations such as these allow retailers to easily plan and launch convenience-focused in-store digital features, and many are tapping third-party technical solutions.”

Retailers surveyed were focused on recreating more elements of eCommerce into in-store excursions, bringing real-time inventory checks and real-time payments up in the queue.

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