7 tips to combat the Amazon effect (hint: it's the hair of the dog that bit you)
By Andrew Earley, vice president, sales for North America, Bouncepad
The "Death of Retail." The "Amazon Effect." The "Retail Apocalypse." Whatever you call it, all eyes are on brick-and-mortar retailers, many of whom are on the ropes — or on the mat — trying to survive and thrive in the digital age, where consumers are increasingly shopping online and Amazon is king.
While technology has been blamed for the recent decline of retail stores, it could also be the secret to their survival. In May, Bouncepad commissioned a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers to gauge their experiences with, and preferences for, technology in brick-and-mortar retail stores. Here's what we found:
- When it comes to technology — do better. Three out of four consumers (78 percent) agreed they want business locations to do a better job of using technology to improve their experience. In today's world, it's obvious consumers want more technology generally — but it's notable that a majority are looking for that extended digital experience IN stores.
- Who's getting it right? Look no further than your neighborhood Walmart. When we talk about who's leading the retail tech revolution in retail, elite brands like Apple, Starbucks and Tesla are always top of mind, but the fact is Walmart tops the list of retailers that make the best use of technology in-store, according to one out of three consumers who name-checked the giant.
- Invest in tech, and consumers will show up and shop. Consumers not only want more technology in business locations, like brick-and-mortar retail stores 77 percent are more likely to visit businesses that offer technology, and 77 percent are also more likely to shop at brick-and-mortar stores that offer self-serve or assisted tablets.
- Most consumers want to self-serve over waiting in line, but give them options for assistance. A majority of consumers (61 percent) prefer self-serve to waiting in line or tracking down an employee. And while consumers prefer self-serve to sales-assisted tablets in retail stores (65 percent), only a minority have actually encountered sales-assisted tablets (30-40 percent). Parents in particular would rather use a self-serve tablet or kiosk in a store rather than wait in line or track down an employee at 72 percent (vs. 61 percent of the general population). With kids on hand — who has time?
- A little help goes a long way: When it comes to self-serve, consumers just need a hand. Of those consumers who haven't used a tablet in a store, 71 percent would — if only a sales person would just show them where and how. We see this time and again where businesses come to us for the first time, ready to toss their tablets due to low consumer engagement—they've invested in the technology, but not in the time needed to make sure consumers know where the tablets are and how to use them. Positioning of technology, availability, and on-demand tutorials are key to in-store tech engagement and success.
- More good news: Hispanics, millennials, and parents are all more likely to shop at stores that offer tech. Parents, millennials, and Hispanics are all more likely to shop at retail stores that offer tablet technology at 85 percent each, compared to 77 percent of the general population. It's no secret millennials are a coveted demographic by the retail industry. But, according to a 2016 Morgan Stanley consumer spending trends report, the Hispanic population is projected to be the fastest growing demographic, with among the highest gains in "wallet share."
- Go beyond self-serve: let consumers price-check, find items, and redeem discounts and promotions. Many consumers want technology to help them skip the line in stores, but when asked what is the most important thing that technology at a retail store should help them do, consumers ranked "Help me check prices" (49 percent), "Help me find what I need" (46 percent), and "Help me take advantage of discounts or promotions" (43 percent) among their top two choices.
The moral of the story: consumers overwhelmingly want more technology in brick-and-mortar stores. And with more consumers willing to show up and shop at stores that have it — beefing up technology is a no-brainer in the face of increasing online retail competition.