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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….Brick-and-mortar retailers are constantly looking for new ways to get a leg up on the competition. With holiday shopping in full swing, it’s as crucial as ever that retailers go the extra mile to convert shoppers into sales. With consumers planning to spend more than they have in the past eight years this holiday season, there is sure to be opportunity. But retailers must make sure they can rise above the many competitors and their multitude of holiday promotions. Here are a few ways retailers can encourage shoppers to come into their stores and gain return on investment this holiday season: Scheduling Visits: As we are in the midst of the holiday season, schedules are sure to fill up with trips, family visits, and other obligations. With gift shopping added into the mix, things can get pretty hectic. Merchants can capitalize on tight schedules by allowing customers to schedule visits with retail scheduling software. Scheduling a shopping or appointment window lets the shopper fully engage in their in-store experience without feeling rushed or squeezing it in between other obligations. Retailers can also manage resources more effectively and prepare their stores for the holiday grind, ensuring a seamless experience for employees and shoppers alike. These set-aside slots bring out what is best about shopping in store and benefit both the retailer and its customer base. Bringing the Knowledge: Hire and train employees to be friendly, accessible and knowledgeable. The last thing any shopper wants when searching for the perfect gift is a poor experience with a retail associate. Who you interact with in-store can make or break your shopping experience and may end up stopping your path to purchase in its tracks. Staff should be cross trained to assist with all store departments so they can quickly assist any shopper in the location. Shoppers often feel helpless and misguided in unfamiliar territory and the pressure of finding good gifts certainly doesn’t help things. Having an intelligent guide lend a hand can make a world of difference when it comes to a shopper’s path to purchase and a successful holiday haul. Personalization: Personalized experiences are a great way to set a store apart while amplifying the effectiveness of your in-store technology. Tailoring the in-store visit to each individual customer and making them feel like one of a kind is a simple way to make sure you’re providing your customers with an in-store shopping experience that’s unlike any online retailer or generic department store full of frustrated holiday shoppers. Research indicates that consumers are more than willing to part with data about themselves – given that it leads to better experiences. Buying history can help take some of the guess work out of buying presents and is sure to deliver that type of experience. So take advantage of data, use it to better understand and serve your customers during the holiday season and make sure your customers are greeted with prompt, knowledgeable service.