Retail stores risk losing consumers to digitally prepared competition

18 January 2017 5 min. read

Meeting retail consumer expectations in the digital age is becoming increasingly difficult for executives to discern, a new Capgemini study finds. Failing to meet expectations, from improved in-store digital to tailored in-store experiences, means that retailers may lose out to manufacturers and pure-play giants.

The proliferation of digital channels, whereby consumers are increasingly offered new ways to access product information and make purchases, creates considerable consecration for physical businesses. In a new report from Capgemini, titled 'Making the Digital Connection: Why Physical Retail Stores Need a Reboot' and involving 6,000 consumers and 500 retail executives from nine countries (US, China, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden), the consultancy explores current trends faced by tradition retail players from sometimes rapidly changing consumer sentiment.

Percentage of Consumers Who See Shopping in Stores as a Chore

According to the study results, consumers’ behaviour around in-store shopping is being transformed by the possibilities opened up to them by digital technologies. Many of the technologies allow consumers to quickly check information, from product reviews to availability, while providing a convenient purchase process – as such, the firm’s analysis highlights, the traditional shopping experience appears more and more as a chore.

The surveyed asked consumers, in a range of countries, to evaluate their in-store shopping experience, in terms of whether they view the activity as a chore and whether they would rather wash dishes or clothes than go shopping. The results show that, particularly Swedish, French, Spanish and Italian shoppers view in store shopping as a chore, while around 40% of these respondents would rather wash dishes than go to the store. In the UK around 22% say that they would rather wash dishes.

Net Promoter Scores

While consumer Net Promoter Scores for retail shopping, across all survey respondents, was found to be very low, at 14 for grocery stores, 5 for fashion store, 6 for electronics and 11 for home improvement, executives of the stores themselves were found to be ‘out for lunch’ – scoring 32 for grocery, 40 for fashion 16 for electronics and 37 for home improvement.

The considerable disparity between what executives see, and what consumers actually think, reflects that consumers are not satisfied with their store experience and that retail executives are out of touch with the key concerns of one of their most valuable stakeholders.

What do Consumers Want from a Store?

The study sought to discern what consumers are looking for when they do venture out to stores. Top of the list is an ability to check product availability before visiting a store, cited by 75% of respondents, while 73% of respondents say that they expect same-day delivery of products purchased in-store. 70% of respondents cite a need to ‘touch and feel products’, while 62% cite an expectation to make prior appointments with store experts to fulfil their needs. Respondents were also looking for additional activities in-store, cited by 57%, and a social experience with friends/family, cited by 60%.

Top Frustrations Consumers face in Retail Stores

In terms of key frustrations consumers face in their retail store experience, a difficulty to compare products comes in first place, at 71%, followed by long queues at checkout, cited by 66% of respondents. Not being able to locate products came in their equal place with a lack of non-personalised promotions/discounts, at 65% respectively. A lack of in-store associated guidance/demos was cited by 64% of consumers as a faced frustration.

Consumers who will bypass traditional retailers

Dissatisfaction with current in-store arrangements may come at considerable costs to physical retailers, with large numbers of consumers (71% on average across countries surveyed) willing to bypass traditional retailers to buy directly from manufacturers or from online tech retail giants, such as Amazon and Google. Considerable variation between region exists however, in China 87% of those surveyed said they would consider bypassing traditional retailers, while in the UK and the US the results stood at 57% and 64% respectively. According to the report authors however, the “trend would essentially disseminate the traditional large-format retail store.”

Kees Jacobs, and advisor in Capgemini's Consumer Goods & Retail arm, says, “Brick and mortar stores of the future will need to be very different if they are to give consumers a reason to leave their computer, abandon their dishes and visit. What is clear from this report though is that they still have a big role to play, The industry is going to see a fascinating struggle take place in the next few years to decide what exactly the new breed of retail store looks like. The battle to create the modern retail experience, between traditional retailers with a long, successful history of high street store building and new digital entrants built around the internet and mobile technology, is finely poised.”