New research has taken a deep dive into exactly what Australian shoppers seek from retail in a post-pandemic world, with the survey revealing sales associate knowledge, stock insight, and omnichannel offerings are among their key requirements.
Undertaken by Manhattan Associates, the research notes retailers need to have a “laser-like focus on what customers really want if the store is to remain relevant”, and here’s what they found…
The role of the sales associate
The role of the sales associate is changing with consumers expecting greater knowledge of products and stock levels from the trusted advisors they turn to instore.
In fact, 50 percent of Australian consumers noted store associates should have extensive knowledge of product information.
Meanwhile, a further 27 percent wanted store associates to have an awareness of stock availability and the willingness to check for items when required.
The report noted this trend reflected the increasing omnichannel expectations of the customer.
“They now expect the associate to access a real-time, single view of stock across the retailer’s estate and be able to speedily access cross-selling opportunities in-store,” the report stated.
Results at a glance
What is the most important role for the store associate?
- Sharing product knowledge – Australian customers 50 percent, globally 47 percent.
- Checking stock availability – Australian consumers 27 percent, globally 22 percent.
- Personal experience of products – Australian consumers 10 percent, globally 13 percent.
- Suggesting complimentary products – Australian consumers 5 percent, globally 11 percent.
Stock accuracy and insight
Asked what they believed should happen if they visited a store and their desired product is not in stock, 42 percent of customers said the sales associate should take decisive action and check if it is available at a nearby store.
More than 17 percent of consumers expected even further initiative, noting store associates should ‘save the sale’ by ordering the product for them and activating either home delivery or in-store pickup.
Meanwhile, 25 percent of customers are at risk of falling out of the retailer’s sales funnel completely, either because they defer their purchase due to an out of stock (8 percent) or go elsewhere to find the same or a similar product (17 percent).
Interestingly, however, only 6 percent of Australian retailers felt they had accurate insight into their stock levels 100 percent of the time.
A further 36 percent of retailers said they had an accurate overview 50-75 percent of the time, and 45 percent said 26-49 percent of the time.
“These findings show that 42 percent of consumers want store associates to have access to IT systems that can locate and deliver products no matter where they are within the retailer’s stock supply chain,” the report noted.
“This is so that in-store associates can help consumers locate products so they can be purchased immediately.”
The importance of the omnichannel experience
In the wake of Covid-19, a seamless omnichannel experience has emerged as a key factor in the retail experience.
Manhattan Associates’ research highlights this even further, with 89 percent of consumers saying a consistent omnichannel experience is important.
Meanwhile, 80 percent of Australian consumers said they check online before venturing in-store for the following reasons:
- To find the best price – 36 percent.
- To research the product – 34 percent.
- To make sure an item is in stock – 29 percent.
- To reserve for click-and-collect – 14 percent.
Retail and sustainability
Even before Covid-19, the conscious consumer was emerging as a trend, and a global pandemic has done little to dampen this push.
The survey found the following when it came to how consumers viewed the issue of environmental sustainability.
- Very important – Australian consumers 21 percent, globally 26 percent.
- Quite important – Australian consumers 46 percent, globally 47 percent.
- Not very important – Australian consumers 26 percent, globally 22 percent.
- Not important – Australian consumers 6 percent, globally 5 percent.
Meanwhile, 8 percent of Australian shoppers said environmental sustainability was the main reason they would remain loyal to a retailer.