Meeting the Rising Demands of the Connected Shopper

Today’s retail shopper is no longer thinking, “Ready. Set. Shop!” They plan out their purchases. The connected shopper seeks out stores that utilize technology to give them a better experience, and they want fast delivery, but don’t want to pay for it.

Those are some of the highlights from Zebra Technologies’ 2018 Global Shopper Study. What Zebra found was shoppers are more connected than ever, and now they have come to expect technology experiences for both brick-and-mortar stores and online shops.

Here is an overview of what shoppers said they want from technology to delivery and many more important topics for retailers:

The Connected Shopper

Customers seek out stores that raise the in-store experience by leveraging technology and knowledgeable sales staff to solve chronic shopping hassles. Smartphone-yielding shoppers expect fast, convenient, information-rich, and connected shopping experiences.

Sixty-six percent of shoppers are satisfied with in-store experiences, with 55 percent satisfied with online shopping.

What they want is quick, friction-free product searches and purchases. If they want something and find it’s out-of-stock, they are not happy.

Their other leading causes of dissatisfaction? The return and exchange process topped the list, followed by prices, the availability for coupons, discounts, and special offers, and, finally, sales associate availability (customer service).

Overall, 42 percent look for sales and discounts most of the time, with 20 percent enjoying browsing stores even if they don’t make a purchase.

And 53 percent are not satisfied with the in-store return process, while 51 percent are not satisfied with the return process for online stores.

Mobile Technology Used by Sales Associates

Connected shoppers want to be serviced by stores that have the technology to help them complete their buyer’s journey. But rising shopper expectations outpace investment in in-store technology.

A key finding of the survey was that 60 percent of shoppers say store associates who use mobile devices for customer assistance improve shopping experiences.

It makes sense when you consider the statistics that showed mobility investments are delivering real results for stores. At Strategic Systems, we work directly with companies like Zebra Technologies to provide the latest mobile devices that revolutionize the shopping experience.

For example, merchants’ mobility investments have changed shoppers’ perceptions that they are more connected than store associates. Now, 44 percent of shoppers believe they are better connected than store associates, compared to 61 percent in 2011. And 62 percent appreciate associates who use handheld mobile devices to check on pricing, availability, etc.

This could be occurring because of how buyer journeys are changing. In-store shopping journeys are becoming increasingly purpose-driven, with more than 52 percent of shoppers reporting that at least two times they made purchases that were planned before entering the store. Only 47 percent said they browse and make purchases based on their interest while in the store, the same percentage for “window shoppers” who do not purchase.

Overall, shoppers say store associates who use handheld mobile computers with scanners to read barcodes for pricing and to check on availability are the most helpful (62 percent). Next, at 58 percent, was mobile point-of-sale devices to take payments anywhere in the store.  And 57 percent of shoppers like tablets, with 51 percent highlighting kiosks or stationary information terminals.

Empty Shelves Hurt Stores

Empty shelves cost retailers $238.1 billion a year, hurt brand integrity, and compromise shopper loyalty, according to the study. The survey revealed 70 percent of shoppers leave without purchasing a sought-after item if they can’t find it in the store.

Strategic Systems has a demonstrated history of using mobile technologies to help retailers recover potential sales. For example, 59 percent of shoppers said they would order an out-of-stock item and have it delivered to their home. And 59 percent also said they would come back if offered a discount when an item is in stock. And even 45 percent said they’d purchase a substitute item in the store. So, the key is having a sales associate with a device that can take care of the customer in these situations.

While each store is different, it’s best to keep in mind that shoppers are changing. These connected shoppers are planning their purchases and are expecting stores to leverage technology better to help them complete the sale. As you plan for the year ahead, let Strategic Systems help you think about how you can add technology to your store to provide a better experience for your customers. Contact our experts today at 877-389-7255 or email us at

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