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In our third-annual State of Retail survey, TimeTrade asked consumers what they like—and don’t like—about shopping in stores.

As in prior surveys, the popularity of in-store shopping remains strong, with 84 percent of respondents indicating they would do as much, if not more, of their total non-grocery shopping in stores this year.

The main reason for the continuing popularity of in-store shopping is consumers like to touch and feel products before they purchase. So until virtual reality makes that possible from home while wearing a headset, brick-and-mortar stores continue to have a strong pull for shoppers.

But there are plenty of areas where stores can up their game in order to make consumers’ shopping experiences even more pleasant—and lucrative for retailers. Take a look at this State of Retail 2017 infographic to see exactly where stores are performing well and where they have room for improvement, as they continue to battle online sellers for the minds, hearts and dollars of increasingly choosy consumers.

Download the full State of Retail 2017 survey report.

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Key Findings from the TimeTrade State of Retail 2017 Survey Report
Consumers said they plan to shop in stores in 2017 as much (70 percent) if not more (14 percent) than they did last year, according to the new TimeTrade State of Retail 2017 survey report. But that figure is down 8 percentage points from the previous year’s survey. And it’s reasonable to speculate that the decline is due—at least in part—to the fact that consumers only “sometimes” (40 percent) or “never” (9 percent) feel they are receiving a personalized shopping experience from the stores they patronize. These are just some of the findings from the new survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by Survey Sampling International (SSI) in November 2016. As in the past, we designed this third annual survey of consumers’ retail experiences to capture the pulse of shoppers and identify what makes them shop where they shop, and how they feel about the service they receive. Key survey findings include:
  • Brick-and-mortar shopping is alive and well. 82 percent of respondents said they still do half or more of their shopping in physical stores (excluding grocery stores).
  • The lure of the mall is tied to shoppers’ preference to touch and feel products before they buy (72 percent) and because they like the personal experience of having a store assistant provide help (29 percent).
  • Even when an item is available online—as well as in a nearby store—75 percent of respondents said they preferred to buy from a physical store.
  • Prompt service continues to be at the top of shoppers’ lists when they go into a store (47 percent). While receiving a personalized experience (26 percent) and smart recommendations (17 percent) are next.
Among the most interesting results of the survey is the willingness of consumers to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to paying more for store purchases—IF they receive more personalized service in return:
  • 41 percent of respondents would pay up to 5 percent more.
  • 43 percent would pay up to 10 percent more.
  • And 16 percent would pay up to an additional 20 percent.
  • Among millennial respondents (ages 21 to 35), nearly 70 percent said they would pay more for products or services if they had a highly personalized in-store experience
  • And 24 percent of millennials—more than any other group—would pay up to 20 percent more.
Talking about how much more consumers would be willing to pay for store purchases if they received better service is an abstract concept. But if you look at it from a dollars and cents perspective, the numbers are huge. Based on U.S. Census Bureau figures for in-store retail sales in 2016 (excluding durable goods, food and beverage sales, gas station sales and other non-retail stores), total sales were $3.17 trillion. If you calculate the TimeTrade survey respondents who said they would pay more for better service, weighing the results by how much more they would be willing to pay, you get a total of $150 billion in 2016 revenue that retailers left on the table. Had they generated that revenue by doing a better job of serving their customers, the brick-and-mortar retail sector would have increased their revenue by 4.7 percent. This additional revenue would represent a huge improvement for brick-and-mortar retailers, who are struggling to meet revenue, profit and stock valuation goals. So, the bottom line of this year’s State of Retail is that consumers like to shop in stores, but they want better service—AND they’re willing to pay for it. Sounds like a recipe for success. If only there were a way for retailers to provide their customers with that elusive “We’ve been expecting you” service by allowing them to schedule appointments for service from their computers, phones, etc. If only….The Financial Brand published an interesting article this week titled “5 Major Emerging Trends in Retail Banking.” All of the points—from how consumers share data with their banks to which channels people use for online banking—were interesting. But the one that stood out to me was #4: “People Still Want That Personal Touch.” Since you’re reading this on the TimeTrade blog, you probably have a pretty good idea of our position on the value for banks, credit unions, retailers and many other businesses to deliver personalized service to their prospects and customers, every time they engage. This article, which cites results from an Accenture study, reinforces what should be obvious: people want to be treated well when they buy products and services. The article cites a caution from Accenture that it would be “a big mistake for financial institutions to commit to a purely digital strategy—one built entirely around AI, robo-advisors, automation and algorithms.” We at TimeTrade completely agree. Responses to the Accenture survey echoed what we learned from the most recent TimeTrade State of Retail Banking and Credit Union Consumer surveys. Highlights from the Accenture survey included:
  • 63% of respondents said if they share data with their bank, they would expect it to result in receiving a more personalized banking experience.
  • 40% of banking customers say the ability to ask a real, live human being a direct question is “extremely valuable.”
  • And nearly half of all consumers (48%) want banking providers to play a supporting role in the purchasing process for non-banking products, such as a house or new car or services related to those purchases (e.g., insurance products, closing assistance).
“Individuals increasingly expect interactions to be personalized and relevant to their financial needs and objectives,” according to the Accenture report. While these results are specific to banks and credit unions, the sentiment is essentially what consumers want in every business transaction, whether it’s obtaining a mortgage, buying clothes or selecting the right SaaS solution for appointment scheduling. In the latest TimeTrade banking consumer survey, two-thirds of respondents said they would be willing to schedule an appointment to meet in-branch with a specialist to discuss a mortgage, wealth management or other important topics. And in the highly desirable millennial demographic (those aged 22 to 36 with increasingly large amounts of income), 75 percent said they desired such personalized customer service. No matter who conducts the survey or what questions they ask, it all comes back to the fact that people like dealing with people, especially when they are seeking advice and confirmation before making major purchasing commitments. That’s why online scheduling software from TimeTrade has become the go-to choice for banks and credit unions that want to create conversations with their customers that drive business. Learn about TimeTrade’s bank appointment scheduling software by booking a meeting with a TimeTrade expert here.