Shoppers want help from technology, not associates

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Shoppers would rather turn to their phones for help than a sales associate. (Getty/Sitthiphong)

Almost all consumers want to be left alone when in-store shopping, according to a new consumer survey by HRC Retail Advisory. In fact, 95% of those surveyed do not want the help of a sales associate and instead prefer to get advice online from friends and family via social media. 

And even for shoppers looking for information, 85% prefer to check prices through a price scanner rather than asking a sales associate, preferring in-store technology to their customer service. As many as 76% of respondents rated an in-store app with personal recommendations as important. 

So while the need for store associates seems in some ways to be diminishing, 52% of those surveyed said it was important to find an in-store shopper who helps them choose technology items. 

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Retailers are going to have to work harder to improve the in-store technology if consumers are going to continue to look for it as an important tool.

Of those surveyed, only 17% found technology in apparel store dressing rooms as important and 6% said customized lighting in dressing rooms were important when shopping for apparel. And mobile payments, though growing in popularity, were only deemed as important by 8% of consumers.

And in the category of in-store events, only 19% of respondents found it an important part of a retailer's offerings. 

So with all these "don'ts," what did consumers rank as "do's" for in-store shopping? As 53% ranked the store's environment as the most important aspect of shopping, 34% put stock in receiving promotional and sales information directly on their smartphone.

RELATED: Amazon planning for technology, not staff, to run grocery

Almost 30% also wanted to be able to pay a sales associate from any point in the store and almost the same number ranked in-store apps with personal recommendations as an important in-store feature. 

On the technology front, Wi-Fi was important by 30% of consumers overall. And reserve online, pickup in-store was important for 42% of millennials, especially in the way of apparel, and 38% for Generation Z. 

“As consumers begin favoring in-store technology over sales associates while they shop, retailers must adapt to shopper expectations in the store environment,” said Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. “Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits.”

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