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Retail Industry Updates

Majority of Shoppers Prefer Contactless Store Pickups, Survey Says

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For months, people have asked, “When will things get back to normal? When will they be like they were before?” But things may never be the same in the retail sector, if the recent report from Incisiv — commissioned by Manhattan Associates – is any indication.

“The New Store Shopper in High-Touch Retail,” is an in-store survey of U.S. shoppers who plan to visit a high-touch retail store in the next 6 months. According to Incisiv, 80% of shoppers expect to increase the use of buy online, pickup in store service and curbside pickups over the next 6 months. In addition, 90% prefer receiving home deliveries over visiting stores. This puts retailers, Incisiv says, in a position where they must be flexible to serve consumers’ needs, particularly when it comes to e-commerce fulfillment.

Another finding of the report was that 85% percent of shoppers have substantially increased their curbside pickup orders compared to pre-COVID-19 rates and 79% said that a contactless store pickup was very important to them.

“We recommend retailers make it easier to find store inventory online, simplify the in-store pick-up experience and help store associates build stronger relationships with customers digitally.”

However, there is still work to be done on the pickup side. According to Incisiv, shoppers rated their recent checkout and pick-up experiences poorly across multiple parameters, including availability of pick-up slots and wait times for pick-ups at the store. In addition, 81% of shoppers gave a rating of three stars or lower when asked about the stores’ availability of a preferred pick-up date and time.

But when the stores reopen, Incisiv says, retailers should expect a surge of in-store returns. After months of e-commerce shopping, the shoppers plan to increase the number of visits to return their items, which is the second biggest motivator for future store visits. “Retailers need to be prepared to handle this surge of inventory in store,” Incisiv says.

“Shoppers view and value stores very differently today than they did pre-COVID-19,” Incisiv Chief Insights Officer Gaurav Pant said. “And, this change in behavior will impact high-touch retail categories such as apparel, luxury and specialty in unique ways.

“We recommend retailers make it easier to find store inventory online, simplify the in-store pick-up experience and help store associates build stronger relationships with customers digitally,” Pant continued. “As importantly, retailers must arm their store teams with tools to fulfill online orders more efficiently — and ultimately, profitably.”

Kevin Swanwick, the vice president of store solutions for Manhattan Associates, added that e-commerce fulfillment would be crucial for the 2020 holiday shopping season. “Shopper demand for an optimized purchase journey has only increased with the pandemic,” he said.

“Retailers who have applied learnings from the past several months and made the right technology adjustments will be better positioned to manage the expected demand for e-commerce fulfillment,” Swanwick added. “Once customers feel safe, converting those returns into sale-exchanges in a frictionless way will be critical for maintaining revenue in stores that are open for socially-distanced selling.”

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