Up to a third of smartphone users admitted to feeling nothing when they walked into a store, according to recent GPShopper research on the consumer connection with retail and brands, clearly raising a red flag for retailers when it comes to building an in-store experience.
“Retailers must deliver a convenient shopping experience that also sparks a little excitement and brand loyalty,” Maya Mikhailov, co-founder and CMO of GPShopper, said in the report. “Mobile is still an underutilized way of doing this. It’s not just moving their physical stores or catalogs onto smartphones, it’s complimenting the in-store experience, experimenting with more omnichannel offerings and ultimately delivering something that speaks to the customer lifestyle over just trying to sell them stuff."
Other emotions commonly felt by consumers when they walk into a store include calm, excited, anxious and annoyed.
According to the survey, 10% of consumers reported feeling “frustrated,” and the highest frustrations were with the fashion and accessories vertical, 26%, followed by car supplies, 21%, and another 18% of shoppers were frustrated by home décor or grocery shopping.
In addition, more than half of these smartphone users reported looking to mobile apps and web searches as the first step to making a purchase in home décor, 63%; fashion/accessories, 60%; sports and outdoors, 59%; and beauty products, 57%.
With all of the new retail technology, which trends are actually emotionally impacting consumers? According to the study, 86% of shoppers liked a store where they can try out products and then make a purchase online. And almost as many, 85%, said they like the idea of product recommendations based on ratings. In addition, 80% of consumers like buying items online and picking them up in-store, and another 78% like stores that were only before developing storefronts.
What do the results of this study signify retailers are not doing?
"The research tells us that digital channels, like mobile, are still siloed from the in-store experience, rather than being used to augment the reality of stores," Mikhailov said. "Consumers are clearly comfortable with experience centers (the research found that 86% of them prefer these “experience” stores) but are leaving the purchase to their mobile devices."
Mikhailov named Apple as a brand that clearly has the customer experience down. She also named outdoor brands like Bass Pro and REI that have been leaders in experiential shopping for years.
Another retailer, BooHoo, has opened an experience center in NYC that is events and lifestyle-driven with the goal of introducing customers to the online brand and product, she said. With constant decor rotations and a plethora of digital screens, it's more of a "hang-out for Instakids" than the typical mall store.
Emotions will continue to be critical differentiators in the retail experience.
"Developing an emotional connection with a brand, experience or store staff can be the difference between creating a loyal customer and pushing them toward online or offline competitors," Mikhailov said.