MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: How can retailers improve the store experience?

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers looking to make their in-store customer experience more appealing can take a few basic technology-enabled steps.

According to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers from iVend Retail and CitiXsys Americas Inc., 71% of respondents agree or strongly agree that shopping online is more convenient than shopping in a store, with 24% saying shopping in a store is a letdown after shopping online.

The study also found 67% of respondents find the online shopping experience smooth and 18% think there is room for improvement. In contrast, only 50% said the in-store shopping experience is smooth and 37% said it needs improvement.

When asked what would improve their in-store experience, respondents’ top choices included having personalized loyalty offers sent to them when they enter the store. Forty-two percent said they wanted offers sent to their phone, while 29% wanted them delivered via email.

Retailers should also consider offering buy online pickup in store (BOPIS) services, of they don’t already. Twenty-five percent of consumers said improved in-store collection processes when picking up an item they’ve ordered online would improve the in-store experience. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they have ordered an item online for collection in a store.

Finally, the study suggests retailers should provide consistent omnichannel personalization. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they receive online offers based on what they buy, but don’t receive targeted offers in the store. As a result, many consumers feel the online experience is more personal.

Nearly a quarter (23%) said they would like stores to give them a more personalized experience like they get online. To get that experience, consumers are willing to allow retailers track their purchasing habits and use that information to send them targeted offers.

Two thirds (67%) said it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” that retailers have one view of them as a customer – both from online and in-store shopping history. More than one-in-five (22%) say they would like stores to know more about how they shop online so that they can improve service.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Holiday shoppers are in a hurry

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers looking to provide a positive customer experience this holiday season should realize time is of the essence.

According to a new survey of 1,267 U.S. consumers from LoyaltyOne Consulting, 94% of respondents said they expect retailers to take extra measures to keep checkout lines moving during the holiday rush. When asked why they avoided stores completely during the holiday season, 36% of shoppers said their primary reason is waiting too long at the checkout.

In addition, 80% of shoppers said they blame the retailer if they have to wait because of another customer’s coupons, returns or customer service problems. But in the millennial demographic, 40% said they resent the other customer, not the store, for making them wait.

Overall, 89% of all shoppers said they expect retailers to take extra measures to keep departments orderly despite the busy season.

Customers don’t just want a quick and orderly purchase process. Six in 10 (59%) of shoppers said holiday gift return policies make or break their opinion of a retailer.

The survey also asked if customers would be interested in shopping on Christmas. Results were sharply divided. Eighteen percent of all respondents said they would shop on Christmas, with 24% saying they would not shop on Christmas and in fact be less likely to return to or recommend a store that was open on Christmas. This respondent group was a subset of 58% of respondents who said they would never shop on Christmas.

Likelihood to shop on Christmas is higher among younger consumers. Among millennials in the 18-24 age group, 30% said they’d shop on Christmas. Among older millennials in the 25-34 year-old age bracket, 27% said they’d shop Dec. 25. The never-shop-on-Christmas score for young millennials (age 18-24) fell to 53%, for older millennials (age 25-34) it was 52%.

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ECOMMERCE

Vera Bradley adds e-commerce expertise to board

BY Gina Acosta

Vera Bradley is adding some deep e-commerce experience from Best Buy to its board of directors.

Kelley has e-commerce, marketing, and strategic planning experience and has served as president, e-commerce for Best Buy since 2014. Prior to joining Best Buy, Kelley served as senior VP, e-commerce for Chico's FAS and held the posts of VP of retail real estate and marketing and VP of e-commerce for L.L. Bean.

"We are so pleased that Mary Lou Kelley has joined our board of directors," said Robert Wallstrom, CEO of Vera Bradley. "Her vast omnichannel experience, counsel, and insight will be invaluable as we continue to transform our business, which includes elevating our marketing efforts and growing our own Verabradley.com digital flagship."

Previously, she also held key marketing positions with Ashford.com and Ben & Jerry's and was an engagement manager at McKinsey and Company. Kelley holds a BA in Economics from Boston College and earned a MBA from the University of Virginia Colgate Darden Graduate School of Business.

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