U.S. consumers want to see more in-store technology tools that either associates or customers themselves can use to drive better in-store experiences, according to a survey from Bouncepad emailed to Retail Dive.
About 78% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they want businesses such as retailers, restaurants and hotels to do a better job of using technology to improve the experience, while 61% want self-service tools at their disposal rather than tracking down or waiting for an employee to drive the experience for them.
Walmart topped the list of retailers that make the best use of technology in-store, according to the survey. One out of three respondents named Walmart as a retailer that gets tech right in-store. One out of seven respondents picked McDonald's (which happens to be a Bouncepad client) as a business in the restaurant category that performs well with tech tools on site.
This survey backs up some of what Retail Dive has been hearing about from other sources — that customers want stores to be better equipped with technology tools that could make their shopping visits easier and more fulfilling. In March, results of a Tulip Retail survey suggested the vast majority of customers felt they were more knowledgeable than store associates, but that a store associate armed to the teeth with mobile devices, apps and access to information about product availability and other details could satisfy them quite nicely.
We also have seen reports suggesting retailers are ready to respond. A Boston Retail Partners study said in April that 89% of retailers plan to provide their store associates with more mobile technology to do their jobs within the next three years. And just last week at IRCE, Salesfloor talked up the results of s study showing that store associates themselves really want better tech tools, but that retailers may not be meeting their needs. In fact, investing in employees through technology made Retail Dive's list of "7 takeaways on the state of digital commerce" following the conference.
The Bouncepad survey is just the latest piece of work backing all this up. Although it goes a little farther to show the desire for in-store self-service options may be growing among consumers. In addition to 61% of consumers wanting self-service tools, 77% of respondents said there were more likely to shop at brick-and-mortar retail stores that offer self-serve or assisted tablets.
Additionally, 65% said they preferred in-store self-service tablets to associate-assisted tablets. Also, 72% of parents (vs. the 61% figure mention above) said they would rather use a self-serve tablet or kiosk in a store than wait in line or track down an employee. Apparently, stores with associate-assisted devices, such as Crate and Barrel, haven't effectively promoted the technology yet as fewer than 40% of respondents said they have encountered sales-assisted tablets in stores.
It's also interesting to note that the tech tools consumers want don't need to be all that advanced. When asked what the most important thing that technology at a retail store should help them do, 49% of consumers said they just wanted to use tools to check price, while 46% said they wanted to search for items, and 43% wanted to use the devices to help them redeem discounts and promotions.
In light these results, perhaps it's not surprising to find Walmart listed as a retailer that understands what in-store tech tools for customer assistance are all about. The retailer earlier this year installed touchscreens in some stores, to help shoppers access some of the information mentioned above. The upshot here may be that while businesses clearly need to provide more on-premise tech tools for their customers, they do not need to be terribly far-reaching. The tech tools their customers want are well within reach today.