More than 40% of shoppers in the UK want to be able to use their mobile devices or web search to find out the availability of items in stores near them, according to research.

A study by Cybertill and YouGov found that 61% of high-street retailers do not display their stock levels or product availability by store on their websites despite 41% of customers saying this is a service they want.

Ian Tomlinson, founder and CEO of Cybertill, said: “Inventory management is a key component to omnichannel success. More specifically, real-time, multi-location stock control that is accurate and customer-facing, such as displayed on the front end of websites, apps or shelf-edge labels.

“I believe that offering these services is achievable, and not just reserved for big-box retailers. We have done this research to bring attention to a largely untapped omnichannel opportunity, and one that could have a big impact on retailers’ bottom line.”

As mobile devices have increased in popularity, consumer behaviour has shifted towards online and mobile shopping. Customer expectation of brands is therefore also changing, with consumers expecting a personalised experience, more information, fast delivery and services such as click-and-collect to make their shopping experience as convenient as possible.

This means physical stores still have a place for the modern consumer – more than 70% of customers said they still value physical store locations, because they don’t have to wait for delivery and can choose and buy products immediately.

But this does not cater to all situations, and a number of retailers are not keeping up with the demands of digital, convenience-driven customers – only 36% of retailers show the availability of stock for a particular store, and of those that do, only 18% show exact item quantities in specific locations.

Some 87% of retailers do not have a geo-location-driven option to enable mobile users to find a specific product they want in a store near nearby.

Customers’ expectation for immediacy when shopping is being exacerbated by retailers such as Amazon, which can provide accurate stock information and, in some cases, services such as same-day delivery.

Very few retailers are currently matching Amazon’s convenience when it comes to same-day, with only 16% of retailer offering online customers same-day collection of ordered goods.

Of those that do offer same-day collection, 72% give customers an exact time after which they can collect an item once they are checking out.

The younger generation are even more adamant that they need to be able to check whether particular items are in stock at a specific retail branch – with 59% saying they want to be able to use a retailer’s mobile app to do so.

Although shops are still important, consumers increasingly expect physical locations to be centres for experiences rather than just purchases, and in many cases expect mobile services to supplement the services provided by stores – especially where younger shoppers are concerned.


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