In an era when retailers have to deal with multiple channels – call centre, web, mobile and physical stores – 49% of consumers confirm the option of being able to visit a physical store to preview items and/or make a purchase is important to them. With 89% of retailers confirming that companies stand and fall on the customer experience they deliver, retailers have confirmed that they are struggling to realise the anticipated benefits of their customer experience improvement programmes with almost 30% confirming their plans aren’t working as hoped.

Such are the findings of the latest thought leadership and research report from Qmatic. Entitled ‘Great Expectations’ and executed by Vanson Bourne, a specialist technology market research company, the in-depth research was undertaken with 100 UK retail decision makers in organisations with both online and offline channels and 500 consumers who shop online and offline. While 92% of retailers confirmed providing a good customer experience is crucial to their business, when it comes to the in-store customer experience, 56% confirm they’re facing a major challenge when it comes to identifying the best improvements to make. 41% cited that a lack of in-house specialist expertise is holding them back from actively pursuing innovations that set them apart from competitors – possibly a contributing factor as to why 15% of retailers still have not commenced actual implementation of their customer experience improvement programme, despite having a plan in place.

“It’s an important acknowledgement that consumers really value the physical shopping experience,” commented Steve Williams, Managing Director, Qmatic UK. “It explains why over half of retailers questioned in our survey have plans in place to increase the number of bricks-and-mortar stores they operate. That being said, retailers are patently feeling at a disadvantage when it comes to executing and benefiting from their customer experience improvement programmes.”

With 80% of retailers who currently offer click and collect predicting a 15% increase in demand for their service in the next year, the primary objective of over half of the retailers’ customer experience improvement programme is the reduction of in-store queues. With the in-store engagement experience set to become even more pivotal, improved store layouts and the implementation of technologies to ensure a smooth physical journey at all times is integral to retailers’ strategies. But when it comes to improving how they manage customer queuing and waiting in-store, 63% of the retailers surveyed cited difficulties identifying which technology solutions they should select and the best way to implement these to make headway with their plans.

“Eliminating customer wait times and generating opportunities for more positive in-store interactions by orchestrating the customer journey should become a priority,” explained Williams. “There are a number of technology options for retailers to consider such as offering an online appointment booking service and the ability to click and collect; both of which cut wait times. Given that a majority of customers enter stores with only a rough idea what to buy, they are incredibly impressionable when they are in the store. In-store mobile check-in supports the delivery of personalised offers and context marketing via in-store digital signage can be tailored to customers, based on their service selections and individual journey through the store.”

For more information about Qmatic and the value that its market leading Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform – Orchestra – can offer to retailers, please visit: http://www.qmatic.com/en/Solutions/Industry-Solutions/Retail…

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