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Poor stock availability is biggest turn-off of store shopping

BY Marianne Wilson

The lack of stock is shoppers’ biggest complaint when it comes to shopping in physical stores.

That’s according to the report by retail IT consulting and technology firm REPL Group in which 48% of respondents said that stock availability is their biggest frustration when shopping in malls. Making matters worse, 69% of consumers said they have experienced being sent a coupon from a store only to find that the product was out of stock once they got there.

In other findings, 25% of shoppers cited the inability of stores to match online deals as a further frustration. However, 44% of shoppers expect stores will be able to match the pricing and offers of their online counterparts by 2022.

“With so much choice online, consumers can afford to shop around to find the best price. Retailers must recognize this and act to rebalance the scales in order to offer more competitive pricing in-line with their online counterparts,” said Mike Callender, executive chairman, REPL Group. However, it’s important to state that price isn’t everything and stores are in a position to market something that online retailers can’t – a premium shopping experience in which customers can touch and try on items and get a level of information on products they can’t online.”

More than half of retail workers (66%) in the survey said their store has been left unprepared for unforeseen spikes in demand. And 34% said that they believed that more accurate forecasting would improve their job satisfaction – a sentiment echoed by 34% of consumers who feel that stock levels being available via an app would enhance their shopping experience.

“Retailers must address these frustrations with stock availability as not only is it causing them to miss out on those immediate sales, but it could also deter shoppers from visiting their store in the future,” said Callender. “By adopting new technology, it is possible for retailers to see real-time stock updates and replenish as is required. They could also make this information available via apps which can be accessed by the consumer to ensure they aren’t making wasted trips to the mall.”

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Deloitte: Holiday shoppers hooked on these two shipping preferences

BY Marianne Wilson

Free consistently trumps fast when it comes to holiday shipping.

That’s according to Deloitte’s 33rd annual “Holiday Survey” of consumer spending intentions and trends. The survey found that while holiday shoppers are hooked on fast and free shipping, 88% of respondents prefer free shipping over receiving their packages faster. The majority (61%) of holiday shoppers report they will buy items that qualify for free shipping this season. For free shipping, 66% are willing to wait three to seven days for their merchandise.

Interestingly, 62% of respondents define “fast shipping” as two days or less, up from 54% in 2017. One-quarter (25%) define three to four day delivery as fast shipping, down from 35% in 2017.

“The same percentage of shoppers prefer fast shipping over free compared with last year, but perceptions about delivery speed have changed considerably,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. retail and distribution leader. “The expectation for delivery has become two days or less. Fast and free used to be considered incentives, and now they’re just table stakes.”

Here are other highlights from the report:

Most shoppers willing to trade personal information for discounts:
• More than half of consumers are comfortable sharing basic demographic information with retailers, such as their gender (56%) and first and last name (53%).

• Retailers have a smaller chance of obtaining certain types of personal information from consumers like geolocation (18%), financial history and credit scores (16%) or biometric data (12%).

• People may be willing to share information if they get something in return: Sixty-one percent of respondents say they would take a promotion or discount in exchange for sharing personal information.

Shopping on PCs and tablets flattening, while mobile continues to accelerate:
• More than two-thirds (67%) of smartphone shoppers plan to use their phones to make a purchase, up from 59% last year.

• This holiday season, 76% say they’ll use their desktop or laptop to shop, making it the most preferred device, but down from 83% in 2017. Tablets remain relatively flat, at 22%.

• Newer technology has yet to capture attention. Only 5% surveyed said they’d use voice assistant for shopping, 5% for social commerce, and 4% said they’d engage in virtual reality technology.

Younger generations more likely to gravitate toward discount shopping days and sustainable products:
• More than half (54%) of Generation Z (ages 18–23) and Millennials (ages 24–41) (53%) say they’ll rely on Black Friday compared with only 37% of seniors. Those numbers are higher for Cyber Monday, where 63% of Generation Z and 62% of Millennials indicate they’re sticking with Cyber Monday shopping as in the past.

• Younger shoppers appear more willing to consider a higher price tag for social responsibility at checkout. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) of Generation Z and three quarters (75%) of Millennial shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainable products. By comparison, almost half (47%) of Baby Boomers are not willing to pay extra.

No lumps of coal for retailers impacted by past data breaches:
• Of the 77% of shoppers who are concerned about retailers who experienced breaches, 91% say they would continue to shop those same retailers. Almost half (46%) indicate they would return if the retailer acted to regain their trust, and 34%) say they would change their method of payment. Only 7% said they would never shop at that retailer again.

“People seem to understand that breaches are unfortunately more common, and are willing to give back business to retailers who step up to regain their trust,” said Matt Marsh, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP and global and US risk and financial advisory leader for the retail and distribution practice. “For retailers, having the response plan in place ahead of time can help prevent them from getting crossed off shoppers’ lists.”

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Here’s how NYC’s Hudson Yards plans to spur shopper spending

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As Manhattan’s newest mega-neighborhood inches closer to its promised grand opening, the destination has made a new move to attract visitors.

Hudson Yards, the mixed-use development that will be home to more than 100 shops, is partnering with Visa on a “connected commerce” program. Through the deal, Visa will develop “only at” payments experiences for cardholders on the property. In addition to offering access and perks to cardholders, the program will allow customers to tap to pay with their contactless card or payment-enabled device at checkout.

The partners are focusing on contactless payments because more than 40% of Visa domestic transactions – excluding the U.S. – occur with a single tap, according to data from VisaNet.

All Visa-Hudson Yards-specific programming will be aimed at a global audience, and showcase the speed and convenience that contactless technology offers both retailer and consumers, according to Hudson Yards.

“Hudson Yards is the neighborhood of the future, bringing together brands and companies at the forefront of their industries to create an entirely digital ecosystem for visitors,” said Stacey Feder, chief marketing officer, Hudson Yards. “Visa’s leadership in contactless transactions makes them the ideal partner to help shape this new center of commerce for the next generation.”

Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, which will feature stores including New York City’s first Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic, Coach, Lululemon, Zara, and H&M, is on track for its promised grand opening in March of 2019.

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