Shoppers frustrated with the in-store experience

More than seven in ten consumers feel they know more about the products and services being offered by a shop than the shop assistant who is supposed to be guiding them, a new study has found

The survey, by Manhattan Associates, found that more than half (56%) of shoppers would interact more with shop assistants if the experience was tailored to their requirements. This means shop assistants who have access to appropriate technology and who can provide personalised and accurate advice

The rise of the internet and the increasing prevalence of smartphones have combined to lead to a major change in shopping habits. Online shopping become a huge part of the commercial landscape and an increasing number of people also conduct their own research before venturing into a store in person.

According to a PwC consumer survey, nearly three quarters of shoppers research items online before going to buy them in-store. Smartphones mean they can carry out additional research, such as accessing reviews, competitor prices or looking for alternatives while they are actually in the store looking at the products. This means shop assistants need to be better informed and more flexible than ever before.

The rise of online shopping has been one of a range of factors making the commercial landscape more difficult for traditional high street shops and a recent report by the BRC suggested that up to 74,000 shops could face closure in the UK over the next 10 years. Other factors that could have an impact include rising salary costs due to the introduction of the National Living Wage and the new apprenticeship levy. Struggling businesses should take steps to address the situation as early as possible, as business turnaround measures could, in some cases, help to stop the decline before it becomes terminal.

The Manhattan Associates survey also found that 74% preferred to shop in-store because they liked to touch the products before purchasing. More than half rated fast delivery of items as important and 46% said they would be happy to give out personal data in exchange for a discount.

By Phil Smith

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