The Difference Between What Consumers Want (And What They Actually Get)

“We’re dedicated to customer service excellence.”

…Practically every retailer says this. And honestly, consumers roll their eyes because they’ve heard it so many times and it sounds like baloney.

So it all comes down to experience. When consumers shop at a retailer, what do they actually get in comparison to what they want to experience?

Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” and Oracle Netsuite partnered to find out what consumers want, what retailers believed they were providing, and what consumers actually get.

They surveyed 1200 consumers and 400 retail execs in the US, UK, and Australia.

And here’s what they found:

1. Millennials Do Want In-Store, In-Person Help

Though Millennials have a notorious reputation for being technology dependent, the survey found they want your staff to help them in person.

So, you still have the opportunity to build in-person relationships that keep them coming back to your brick-and-mortar.

2. Retail Execs Think They Know Their Customers, But Consumers Disagree

73% of those 400 retail execs think in-store retail relationships have become more inviting in the past 5 years. Just 45% of consumers actually agree with that. And 19% think retail stores have actually become less inviting.

79% of retail execs think their online chatbots meet customer needs. 66% of consumers disagree. They consistently cited chatbots actually harm their experience moreso than anything else.

3. Consumers Don’t Get a Personalized Shopping Experience

You’ve heard “personalization” get thrown around left and right. Consumers want that. But retailers have a difficult time providing it.

80% of consumers do not feel they get a personalized shopping experience either in-store or online.

58% of consumers aren’t comfortable with the way retailers use technology to improve personalization in-store.

53% of consumers felt negative emotions the last time they went in-store.

Just 39% of consumers feel confident in-store.

4. How Consumers Want You to Use Technology

Truthfully, consumers want you to use technology to support (not replace) your interactions with them.

Retail execs agree, as 90% of those surveyed believed their technological solutions weren’t meeting customer needs.

98% of retail execs believe using virtual reality and artificial intelligence will increase in-store foot traffic. But, 48% of consumers think neither will have any effect on their likelihood to go in-store.

“The Retail Doctor” concludes that today’s retail is no longer about selling to millions of people at a mass scale.

Instead, success lies in how well you can sell to a single person.

…And he’s probably right.

FYI you can find all the survey data here.