Personal Tech Shapes Shopping
By Pan Demetrakakes
Personal technology is shaping shopper expectations to an unprecedented degree, and retailers must adapt if they want to take advantage, according to a new survey by Cognizant, a global IT services and consulting firm.
The Shopper Experience Study, a survey of more than 5,000 North American shoppers, centered on certain consumer desires and concerns as they relate to technology, including:
• 64 percent of consumers said they buy online at least once a month, and 13 percent make weekly purchases.
• 80 percent of shoppers are members of at least one retailer loyalty program, and 32 percent of shoppers consider loyalty one of the top three reasons for not making a purchase from the lowest-priced retailer.
• 55 percent of shoppers reported using their smartphones to comparison shop, and 25 percent of shoppers say they use their mobile devices to compare prices “most of the time” while shopping.
Comparison shopping may be more prevalent for big-ticket items like electronics and appliances, but it’s increasingly taking hold for groceries and other consumable goods, says Cognizant senior vice president Steven Skinner.
“Comparison shopping among food/CPG companies is growing, according to the Grocery Manufacturers Association,” Skinner says. “A very large percentage of our population is needing to know exactly what they can spend per week for food. Many of these consumers are comparison shopping with food/CPG companies before they leave home. They access coupons online, identify the best place to shop, then typically limit their physical stops to only one or two brick-and-mortar retailers or online retailers.”
The Cognizant survey asked shoppers why they might choose a retailer other than the lowest-priced one. The most common reason was convenience, at 48 percent, followed by loyalty programs (32 percent) and return policy (31 percent).
Skinner says that food and other CPG retailers can enhance convenience through judicious offering of apps. These include price-comparison apps like ShopSavvy and Price Scanner, which allow shoppers to scan bar codes and compare prices across a number of retailers; Food Origin, which reveals the provenance of a food item with a bar code scan; and a variety of apps and websites, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, that provide guides to farmers markets and other sources of organic/healthier food.
Another aspect of convenience is online ordering, in its various forms. The survey specifically looked at click-and-collect, which it referred to as Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS). A Cognizant report on the study warned, “BOPIS is both a benefit to shoppers and a driver of in-store sales, but it is hard to execute and easy to create service failures.” Specifically:
• 30 percent of shoppers use BOPIS at least once per month, and 6 percent do it once per week or more.
• 65 percent of shoppers who use BOPIS end up purchasing additional products when they pick up their items in the store.
• 60 percent of shoppers reported service failures when using BOPIS, such as long wait times at the counter to pick up the order, items not ready for pickup as promised, confused customer service associates, and items being damaged or incorrect.
Skinner says that home delivery is another important aspect of convenience in grocery retailing, and that retailers are overcoming the biggest obstacle: trust.
“Now consumers are trusting, more than ever, people to recognize quality, pick their produce and deliver it to them via a home delivery service,” he says. Retailers can enhance this trust through the right apps: “The ability to provide rich data, imagery of products, product origin details, and competitive comparisons online or through apps is making it easier for consumers to trust the online/home delivery experience.”