Customers create their own digital experience

shutterstock_163505753Where vendors are struggling to provide a digital experience in store, consumers are filling in the gaps themselves.

85% of 2,000 consumers recently surveyed by The Bio Agency could not name a high street retailer with a really good digital experience in store. As a result, with the majority of customers now shopping with a mobile in hand, they are taking it upon themselves to deliver the digital aspects of shopping that they expect.

Almost half of those surveyed want to use their phone to get more information while shopping in store, through the likes of barcodes linking to added information as well as access to customer reviews and price checks. This is reflected by the 47% of smart phone owners who have used their devices to browse for an item while in a store. In addition, 29% have used their phones to buy a product when it has been out of stock, according to the latest eCustomer Service Index results from the IMRG and eDigital Research. One in five smart phone owners has also bought a product online to avoid the long queue at the till in store.

The balance between in store and online shopping appears to be confused in many cases, which is perhaps why in store digital technology is struggling to develop naturally. Retailers are trying to offer an omni-channel shopping experience by offering at least both of these channels, but the seamless relationship that is needed between them is often jagged. Products and prices that are found online are not necessarily reflected in store, and staff working in store have been known to be at a loss when it comes to assisting a customer with an online product enquiry.

However, this doesn’t change that fact that retailers need to get a grip on today’s shopping preferences. Consumers, who recently voted online shopping as their top technological development of the 21st century, in a poll by energy company E.on, aren’t about to go back to the old days of just traditional bricks and mortar shopping.

In line with technological expectations on the high street, the purchase journey in store is also under review with apps taking a front row seat. KFC, fast food chain, has introduced the My KFC app with KFC Fast Track to help its customers to order, pay and collect their food faster. Customers place their order in advance and then pay by credit or debit card, or Pay Pal. Meg Farren, KFC’s marketing manager comments on the app and hints that it may be a way to up sales: “Apps like KFC Fast Track are great for engaging with consumers and collecting data, so we’re keen to explore where else we can take this. Early data indicates that consumers are spending more on each transaction when ordering through the app”.

Being able to browse, learn about and pay for goods via mobile device is certainly looking like a positive way forward for consumers and retailers, and may see the beginnings of a new and improved relationship between the two.