Digital is now the front door to the store, according to a new report from Incisiv commissioned by Manhattan Associates. “The New Store Shopper in High-Touch Retail” is an in-store shopper survey covering U.S. shoppers who plan to visit a high-touch retail store (non-grocery) in the next 6 months. COVID-19 has brought radical change to the retail industry, not least, a reprioritization of the store experience for pandemic-era shoppers.
With 80% of shoppers expecting to increase BOPIS and curbside pickup over the next six months and 90% of shoppers preferring home delivery over a store visit in the next six months, retailers must position themselves to flexibly serve these needs, especially when it comes to e-commerce fulfillment. Key findings of the report include:
- Stores become hubs of online order fulfillment and safety is the price of entry for the foreseeable future. 85% percent of shoppers have significantly increased curbside pickup orders compared to pre-COVID-19 rates, and 79% say a contactless store pickup is very important to them. While 91% of shoppers miss shopping in stores, only 5% plan to try a product in-store in the next six months and only 28% plan to increase in-store shopping. Safety of store experience – be it for in-store purchase or order pickup – is of utmost importance, according to respondents.
- Shoppers find current pickup experiences lacking. Shoppers rate their recent checkout and pick-up experiences poorly across a variety of parameters - from availability of pick-up slots to wait- times for pick-up once at the store. 85% of shoppers rate the ease of completing an order four stars or higher, but they encounter significant friction getting there, both online and in-store. 81% of shoppers rated 3 stars or lower when asked about stores’ availability of preferred pick-up date and time.
- Retailers should expect a flood of in-store returns once stores reopen. Following months of e-commerce shopping, shoppers are planning to increase in-store visits to return an order or item. In fact, returning an item to the store is the second biggest motivator for future store visits, behind same-day need. Retailers need to be prepared to handle this surge of inventory in store.
“Shoppers view and value stores very differently today than they did pre COVID-19. More than ever before, it is all about safety, speed and convenience," said Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer, Incisiv. "And, this change in behavior will impact high-touch retail categories such as apparel, luxury and specialty in unique ways. We recommend retailers make it easier to find store inventory online, simplify the in-store pick-up experience, and help their store associates build stronger relationships with customers digitally. As importantly, retailers must arm their store teams with tools to fulfill online orders more efficiently - and ultimately, profitably."
“E-commerce fulfillment, including home delivery and in-store fulfillment, will be crucial for the 2020 holiday shopping season,” said Kevin Swanwick, vice president, store solutions, Manhattan Associates. “Shopper demand for an optimized purchase journey has only increased with the pandemic. Retailers who have applied learnings from the past several months and made the right technology adjustments will be better positioned to manage the expected demand for e-commerce fulfilment. Once customers feel safe, converting those ‘returns’ into sale-exchanges in a frictionless way will be critical for maintaining revenue in stores that are open for socially-distanced selling.”
The study also indicates that store associates will continue to be seen as an important source of knowledge and insight, but the relationship between the shopper and employee will need to be digitized. For 80% of shoppers, digital communications with store associates over the next 6 months are "likely" or "very likely.” As well, store inventory visibility will become the centerpiece of all associate and customer experiences. This includes showing accurate, real-time store inventory online, filtering stores by product availability and showing accurate inventory location within the store to associates and customers.