Seventy-five percent of millennial shoppers have left a store without purchasing an item and instead bought the item online, according to the 12th annual Global Shopper Survey from Zebra Technologies. Fifty-three percent of Gen X shoppers reported doing the same.
The leading reason for leaving stores to purchase online was out-of-stock items; 43% of retail associates surveyed cited customer complaints about out-of-stocks as their biggest point of frustration, while 39% of consumers left a store without purchasing due to the issue.
Forty percent of shoppers reported using self-checkout in the past six months, and 58% of respondents agreed that self-checkout improves the customer experience. Zebra surveyed 4,811 shoppers, 1,100 retail associates and 435 retail executives worldwide.
This survey demonstrates that there's still a disconnect between the experience retailers think they're providing and what consumers are encountering. Seventy-seven percent of retail executives believe customers are satisfied with the in-store experience, according to the survey, while only 57% of shoppers report that same level of satisfaction. Not finding the desired item on a store shelf can be particularly frustrating for a consumer who may have been able to order it for home delivery and skip the store altogether.
It's an issue retailers are aiming to remedy through a combination of supply chain fixes and also by giving store associates more agency beyond their register stations. Lowe's admitted in August it had one of the worst in-stock positions in retail until it increased the efficiency of its internal supply chain; that chain reported 2.3% sales growth year-over-year for second quarter due to its to improve its in-stock status.
Meanwhile, Walmart last year launched an app for store associates to allow customers to order and pay for items to be shipped while inside a physical store. Any associate with the app can place an order, and customers can use any payment method, including cash.
Overall, retailers could gain $22 billion by recapturing sales when items are out of stock, according to a 2018 report from the Grocery Manufacturers Association. IHL Group pushed that estimate even further in another 2018 study, saying retailers are missing out on nearly $1 trillion in sales due to out-of-stocks. That report said shoppers experience out-of-stocks as often as one in three shopping trips.