On the 25th of September, 2020, Qudini ran a consumer survey to 2,000 British shoppers to better understand how they were interacting with stores during the Coronavirus era.
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.
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
When viewing all generational responses as to how they felt each individual Retail Choreography solution would positively impact their interaction with a retailer:
- Shoppers would be most likely to visit a retailer and have an improved overall perception if the retailer had a host managed waiting experience, followed by contactless collection, then in-store appointments, then virtual queuing and then virtual appointments.
- Shoppers felt that they would feel safer and happier with all solutions in the order of: contactless collections, store appointments, a host managed waiting experience, virtual queuing and then virtual appointments.
- Shoppers would be more likely to choose a retailer over their competitors as a result of them offering contactless collections and store appointments, followed very closely by a virtual queuing system or a host managed waiting experience and, thereafter, virtual appointments.
- Shoppers state that all solutions would increase their likelihood of purchasing with a retailer online, with contactless collections coming out on top and all other solutions equally impacting customer propensity to shop with the retailer online for 11%-12% of customers.
- Customers were all equally likely to be driven to purchase in-store as a result of a retailer’s use of in-store appointments, virtual queuing and a host managed waiting experience (the same question was not asked for contactless collections and virtual appointments).
These insights indicate that every retailer could significantly improve their revenues and brand relationships by using digital tools to choreograph their customer experience during the pandemic and even beyond.
What tools do different generations of consumers care about most?
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.
The benefits of virtual queuing software and appointment booking software
When asked why customers would find virtual queuing and appointment booking software useful within retail stores during the pandemic, it was clear that most customers felt the solutions could alleviate their health concerns.
The second most cited benefit was the ability to save time and to be more efficient, demonstrating that it is important for retailers to value their consumers time during every interaction. Time appears to be slightly more important to Millennial and GenZ customers and, to all age groups, is even more important than enjoyment and better service.
For virtual queuing, the system’s ability to protect customers during poor weather conditions was voted as the third most attractive benefit (particularly by Baby Boomers), indicating that the greatest need for the tool is during the autumn, winter and spring months ahead. The ability to stay informed about wait times and to ensure a fair process were also popular benefits.
Fairness was also cited as the third biggest benefit of appointment scheduling software. For higher household income groups, the greater fairness offered by an appointment scheduling tool is incredibly important to them and is as important as the ability to use their time productively.
What stores do consumers find Retail Choreography solutions useful 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.