At the end of September we surveyed 2,000 UK consumers to better understand how Retail Choreography software solutions are being implemented by retailers right now, and how they could help to counter the customer health and experience challenges posed by the pandemic to drive more footfall to stores and retain customers once inside.
We surveyed consumers on the usefulness and benefits of:
- Host managed waiting experiences – hosts that greet customers entering a store and use tablets to give them queue and wait time information.
- Virtual queuing systems – that enable customers to join a virtual queue via their mobile phones or a host with a tablet and to receive SMS and smartphone updates while they wait for service.
- In-store appointments – that enable customers to schedule times to visit stores and to receive service.
- Virtual appointments – that enable customers to schedule time to speak with a brand representative online from the comfort of their own home.
- Contactless online order collection experiences – that enable customers to collect orders placed online from outside of the store.
What are Retail Choreography software solutions?
Just like a dance choreographer constructs powerful and captivating dance routines through carefully planning and controlling the movement of their dancers across novel and exciting stage environments…
Retail Choreography software solutions enable retailers to construct captivating omni-channel retail offerings, through better planning and controlling or “choreographing” their customers and brand representatives to ensure seamless customer flow and powerful brand interactions.
Retail Choreography solutions focus on helping retailers to achieve this through holistically managing their customer experience, operations and data.
The Retail Choreography solutions focused on in this survey:
Virtual queuing systems: to manage store capacity and to enable customers to queue virtually using their phone or through a host with a tablet.
Appointment scheduling software: to enable customers to schedule store visits and in-person service or virtual service 24/7 from any channel.
Contactless Order Pickup Check-in: to enable customers with online orders to check-in when they arrive at store so that store teams bring their order to them outside of the store.
On average across different types of stores, customers rated the usefulness of these different Retail Choreography solutions in the following order:
Millennial and GenZ customers
1.Contactless collection services
2.Host managed waiting experiences
3.Virtual queuing systems
2.Host managed waiting experiences
3.Virtual queuing systems
4.Contactless collection services
Millennial and GenZ customers were on average 1.7 times more likely to rate the solutions as useful compared to Baby Boomers.
Store types consumers expect Retail Choreography solutions in
Our survey found that, during and likely beyond the pandemic, customers would find all the Retail Choreography solutions in question useful within every type of retail store. The priority and extent to which each solution was found useful varied based on the type of retail store, for example:
- Grocery stores, shopping malls, fashion stores and shoe stores would most benefit by using virtual queuing software, followed by contactless collection services and then by appointments.
- Pharmacies, luxury stores and mum/children/toy stores would most benefit from store appointments, followed by virtual queuing software, followed by contactless collection and then virtual appointments.
- Jewellery, lingerie, electronics, department, pet, sportswear, health food and cycle stores would most benefit from offering contactless collection, followed by in-store appointments, followed by virtual queuing software and then virtual appointments.
- DIY, makeup and skincare, shoe, phone, homeware, book and garden centre stores would benefit most by offering contactless collection followed by virtual queuing software, then in-store appointments and virtual appointments.
- For stores with higher priced items (also those which have a wider appeal with older generations) including car dealerships, travel stores, opticians, estate agencies, banks and building societies, customers would like to find in-store appointments, followed by virtual appointments, then followed by virtual queuing, and lastly contactless collections.
Younger generations demand Retail Choreography solutions from brands
The survey responses found that any retailers who use any of these five solutions to choreograph their customers’ experience stand to gain significantly through improved revenues and brand relationships across channels.
This is particularly prevalent amongst Millennial and GenZ customers where an average of 77% state that the solutions would positively impact their interactions with retailers in one or more of the following ways:
- 22% would be more likely to visit the retailer in the first place – showing all the solutions can help retailers to drive and retain store footfall.
- 25% would feel safer and happier and 22% would think better of the retailer – demonstrating that all the solutions can help brands to improve their relationships and relevance amongst younger customers.
- 22% would be more likely to buy something online – indicating that offering contactless click and collect services would enable a retailer to acquire new customers and to increase conversion of customers.
- 17% would be more likely to buy something in-store and 17% would also be more likely to shop with the retailer online – suggesting that using these digital tools to improve their customer experience will enable any retailer to increase their overall omni-channel revenues.
- 19% would be more likely to choose the retailer over their competitors – demonstrating that Retail Choreography solutions can hugely help brands to improve their brand relevance.
- 20% would be more likely to tell their friends about the retailer – indicating that all the solutions can help retailers to improve customer advocacy amongst almost a fifth of their customers to ultimately attract more customers to their brand.
The most attractive benefits of Retail Choreography solutions
Looking at how consumers state each of the four key solutions being offered by retailers to support customer experience during the pandemic would positively impact their future interactions with a retailer shows that:
A host managed waiting experience, followed by contactless collection followed by in-store appointments, then virtual queuing and then virtual appointments would be most likely to increase a customer’s chances of visiting the retailer and to improve their overall perception of the brand.
Store appointments followed by contactless collections, a host managed waiting experience, then virtual queuing software and virtual appointments would be most likely to make customers feel safer and happier.
Store appointments combined with contactless collection, followed by virtual queuing, then a host managed experience and then virtual appointments would be most likely to drive customers to visit the retailer’s stores and to choose the retailer over their competitors.
Contactless collections would be most likely to drive customers to shop with a retailer online, followed by store appointments, a host managed waiting experience, virtual queuing and virtual appointments almost equally.
Percentages of overall customers that see some benefit in each solution is extremely high and is highest for host managed waiting experiences (at 76% of consumers), then in-store appointments (62%), followed by contactless collection (64%), then virtual queuing (62%) and lastly virtual appointments (57%).
What tools do different generations of consumers care about most?
Comparing the impact of these 5 key digital systems used by many retailers to choreograph their customer experience (host managed waiting experiences, virtual queuing systems, contactless collection services and in-store and virtual appointments) on Millennial and GenZ customers versus Baby Boomers shows that:
1)Retail Choreography tools are twice as likely to have a positive impact on GenZ and Millennial customer behaviours with a brand.
2)GenZ and Millennial customers are just slightly (on average 19%) more likely than Baby Boomers to build a more positive relationship with a brand due to the ability of Retail Choreography tools to make them: feel safer and happier, think better of the retailer, visit the retailer in the first place and choose the retail over competitors.
3)However, Millennial and GenZ customers are on average twice more likely to shop with the retailer in store and 2.4 times more likely to shop with a retailer online as a result of their use of digital tools to choreograph their customer experience.
Overall, younger generations are 1.7 times (39%) more likely than Baby Boomers to find it useful if retailers use digital tools to choreograph their experience. Comparing how these five different systems positively impact the behaviours of Millennial and GenZ customers versus Baby Boomers shows that:
- Retail Choreography tools are 1.5 times more likely to have a positive impact on GenZ and Millennial customer behaviours with a brand, with 77% of GenZ and Millennial and 50% of Baby Boomer customers reporting at least one positive benefit of using the system.
- GenZ and Millennial customers are just slightly (on average 19%) more likely than Baby Boomers to build a more positive relationship with a brand due to the Retail Choreography tools to making them more likely to: feel safer and happier, think better of the retailer, visit the retailer in the first place and choose the retailer over competitors.
- However, most importantly, Millennial and GenZ customers are on average twice more likely to be driven to both immediate and long-term sales across a retailer’s channels as a result of the better experience created by these Retail Choreography tools. They are 2 times more likely to shop in-store and 2.4 times more likely to shop online.
All this confirms what we all instinctively know to be true – Millennial and GenZ customers want retailers to use digital tools to improve their experience, and they are willing to pay more and engage more for the privilege.
With these younger generations ever increasing in spending power, these insights suggest that retailers who use such digital tools to choreograph and improve their customers’ experience stand to win through greater immediate and long-term revenue generation and increased customer retention, acquisition and advocacy.
Retail Choreography solutions are key to engaging higher income households
To further add to the business case for using Retail Choreography solutions to improve customer management and experience during and beyond the pandemic:
Our survey also showed that, on average, 21% of those from higher income households were more likely to make an in-store purchase and 19% were more likely to shop with the retailer online as a result of a retailer’s use of the five Retail Choreography solutions. They are 1.6 times more likely to make a purchase in-store or online than those in the lower income tiers.
Overall, this survey shows that a long wait time is more likely to drive younger generations and those from higher household income groups to walk out of stores without buying anything and to not return to store. Retail Choreography tools offer a powerful antidote, as these same demographics are also the most likely to be driven to purchase in-store and online across a retailer’s channels, and the most likely to return again, as a result of a retailer’s use of digital tools to choreograph their experience.
Overall, our survey insights found that while queuing is a challenge that costs retailers significant revenue opportunity, virtual queuing systems serve as a powerful antidote that can even enable retailers to turn a typically negative experience into something that increases sales both online and offline, while driving strong customer relationships in the process.