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Retailers have 180 seconds to make their mark on customers in-store

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22nd Sep 2014
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If you look at most survey stats or opinion polls it seems no one likes to be hounded by staff when they walk into a shop, but yet, subconsciously, if we’re not approached by anyone, do we feel just as offended?

That’s the conundrum retailers have to work to in-store, and according to stats from Imperial College and Red Ant in their UK Shopper Satisfaction Study, 38% of us will only give shop staff a maximum time of 180 seconds to make an approach and ask us a stock question, and then we’re gone.

Surveying UK consumers on their biggest shopping bugbears, Red Ant and Imperial College found that not only do we subconsciously want assistance from staff in-store, we also expect staff to have extensive knowledge on the products they’re selling and the latest tech on hand to look cutting edge in the process.   

Worryingly, 42% of consumers believe that in-store experiences currently fail to keep up with that provided by ecommerce alternatives, with top concerns being that assistants are often rude or have “dismissive attitudes” (53% agree to this point), have poor product knowledge (37%) or chat with other staff too much on the shop floor (32%).

Highlighting the importance of bridging the gap between in-store and digital, 34% of respondents also said they expected shop floor assistants to be “armed with tablets” to rectify issues and improve customer experience.

“Clearly the service experience on many of the UK’s high streets is failing to meet consumer expectations,” says Dan Mortimer, CEO of Red Ant.

“Online commerce has evolved and improved significantly over the last five years, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that in-store retail is starting to feel a bit underwhelming in comparison. Progressive retailers should be looking at ways that they can take the best of ecommerce, integrate it into in-store environments, and use it effectively to improve the customer experience.”

The study mirrors other statistics that suggest an omnichannel approach is the best method for satisfying customers in-store, however it also echoes the sentiments highlighted by Craig Sears-Black recently, who stated that the role of the shop assistant needed to change dramatically in order to compliment and compete against ecommerce alternatives.

In a blog post on MyCustomer in August, Sears-Black suggested that shop assistants would need to evolve to become far more data-led, and that with the application of available technology, would also need to have an understanding of the supply chain and fulfilment options in order to be able to help with a customer’s omnichannel journey.

And while Sears-Black entitled his blog post ‘The Shop Assistant of the Future’, it appears Red Ant and Imperial College’s latest research shows consumers are already expecting this from shop assistants, now. 

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