Pro Tip: Retail and technology align in their desires to improve customer experiences and evolve the shopping process. But, even as technology advances, it’s important for the industry to understand the practical applications of these advancements in order to truly solve problems for consumers. (Click here to jump to the full RL Pro Analyst Take below.)
Prioritizing customer experience (CX) has become critical for retailers looking to retain loyal customers. In fact, recent Zendesk research found 70% of consumers spend more with retailers that offer fluid, personalized and seamless CX. In turn, 71% of retail leaders say strengthening business resilience through customer service will become a top priority during this economic downturn, Zendesk reported. One key area retailers plan to spend in 2023 is improving CX technology, and research shows these improvements will be integral to consumer loyalty.
Self-Checkout, Smart Cart and Vending CX
For example, new research from Shekel Scales showed that 90% of consumers believe technology will significantly improve the overall shopping experience. While nearly 60% of consumers wanted technology that speeds up and simplifies the self-checkout process, more than 30% of respondents expressed a desire for technology that helps them get in and out of the store as fast and as easily as possible.
“According to our consumer survey, a positive or enhanced shopping experience could include improved and simplified self-checkout processes,” Nir Leshem, Shekel’s CEO, told Retail Leader Pro. “By implementing consumer-demanded improvements, retailers can increase brand recall and strengthen brand associations. Both of which contribute to brand loyalty and even brand advocacy.”
Key findings of the Shekel’s survey include:
- 50% of consumers said frequent overrides or cashier intervention as the top concern with the self-checkout experience; 25% of respondents reported difficulties entering produce items and baked goods.
- In 93% of the responses, more accurate technology, system simplification for ease of use, improved user experience and eliminating the need to individually enter items were cited as reasons a consumer may be more likely to try self-checkout.
- An overwhelming 90% of consumers said a self-checkout system that could automatically identify produce items would be helpful during the checkout process.
- 50% of consumers said they were not familiar with the concept of a smart cart. When provided with the definition of “a shopping cart that automatically performs checkout when items are added to the cart,” 74% of respondents said they were very likely or somewhat likely to try a smart cart if the option was available to them.
- The possibility of recording inaccurate transactions (60%) and potential technical difficulties with using a smart cart (40%) were cited together as the top barriers to smart cart adoption.
- Consumers cited limited product selection (51%), a lack of fresh products (39%), and no customer service (33%) as the top three frustrations associated with vending machines.
- The inability to return items or purchase more than one item at a time with vending machines also appeared in a combined 40% of responses.
“The main takeaway for retailers from the consumer survey data is that technology is the key to long-term success,” Leshem said. “As evidenced by the data, many consumer pain points can be solved by implementing technology. As a result, consumers will enjoy positive brand experiences which in turn increases customer retention and brand advocacy and ultimately the retailer’s bottom line.”
AI, Conversational, Personalization CX
Improving CX by investing in technology that creates immersive, seamless experiences is the new standard of customer service and is critical to improve loyalty. Zendesk’s survey found that:
- 64% of consumers want bots to provide the same level of service as humans.
- 62% of consumers think companies could do a better job personalizing their experiences.
- 66% of consumers said a bad interaction with a business can ruin their day.
“Today, customers have even higher expectations, little patience and many options when it comes to who they do business with,” Caitlin Keohane, Zendesk’s senior vice president, global customer advocacy told Retail Leader Pro. “Customers are eager for deeper personalization.
“Zendesk’s ‘2023 CX Trends Report’ reveals that more than half of customers feel companies could be doing a better job personalizing their experiences in-store and online,” she added. “They know companies have information about them and want it to be used to give them better options and solve problems. This ability to provide deep personalization builds trust, loyalty and lasting relationships for retailers.”