04.13.2017 By: Tulip Retail

Report: Majority of shoppers feel they ‘know more’ than store associates

As seen on Chain Store Age.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are fighting harder than ever to remain relevant among digitally driven shoppers.

This is not an easy task as 83% of shoppers believe they’re more knowledgeable than retail store associates — often due to the online research they conduct before entering a store, according to a new survey from Tulip Retail.

The good news is 79% of survey respondents said knowledgeable store associates are “important” or “very important.” Additionally, 64% of respondents believe physical retail locations will be part of the shopping journey in the future, which is welcomed news by retailers that are faced with headlines today questioning the existence of brick-and-mortar down the road, the report explained.

In fact, 77% of consumers believe the biggest advantage of shopping in-store is the ability to touch, try on, and see products, and 63% prefer to shop both in-store and online. And 53% believe that store associates are either “very valuable, very helpful” or “valuable, helpful.” But that doesn’t mean retailers still have work to do.

“Our survey had some sobering findings that should keep executives of brick-and-mortar retailers up at night – including the fact that nearly 90% of respondents shop at Amazon and that store associates are not meeting customer expectations,” said Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail.

“But there’s also some really good news for retailers that our survey uncovered – knowledgeable store associates are valued by shoppers, and those empowered with mobile technology are delivering better shopping experiences,” Asaria said. “Bottom line, investing in store associates needs to be a high priority. With the right tools, they can become beacons of knowledge, trusted advisors and drive sales.”

For example, 72% of shoppers that dealt with a store associate who uses a mobile device to provide things like product information, credit card checkout, and inventory look-up, said it resulted in a better shopping experience. And almost 30% know the store associates by name at the retailers they visit.

These experiences are driving increasing shoppers’ expectations, however. Nearly 50% of shoppers said a knowledgeable store associate who is able to suggest products based on their purchase history would encourage them to shop in-store. Meanwhile, 73% would be interested in having a store associate text or email them about the status of their order or that their order has arrived in the store, the study reported.