Speed and convenience among keys to modern retail: report

  • Consumers are increasingly intolerant of online errors
  • Both physical and online stores need to speed up their checkout process
  • Consumers are tied to the best service and experience, regardless of where they find it 

Despite dire predictions about its future, brick-and-mortar remains a key sales channel for retailers. However, consumers are increasingly intolerant of a less-than-perfect customer experience, regardless of where they’re shopping, according to a new study from the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).

Entitled The Blended Commerce Imperative, the study is a collaboration between Google Canada, WisePlum, the RCC and its marketing advisory council, based on interviews with 5,007 Canadian retail shoppers.

Among the findings:

  • Online isn’t perfect

More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents reported a problem with an online purchase, compared with just 41% of  who said the same of in-store purchases. Online problems are particularly acute during pre-purchase research, with customers struggling to find the right product, accurate photos, correct and detailed merchandise information, and being able to “experience” an item. Online, the report claims, is becoming the “Achilles heel” of retail.

  • Millennials are most sensitive to ‘friction’

Millennials report an average of 5.1 problems with a purchase, versus an average of 3.4 for the general population. Urbanites report 4.1 problems, compared with just 3.1 for suburbanites. Non-grocery retailers receive more customer complaints (3.9) than grocery (1.4). “Every touchpoint creates an opportunity to disappoint or delight, lose or create loyalty, and enhance or diminish your brand,” the report notes.

  • Brand loyalty can evaporate quickly

Consumers’ brand preferences can shift based on their perception of convenience and good service. An online shipment that takes more than a couple days to arrive, or a store check-out line lasting longer than five minutes, is no longer tolerable.

They said: “We are seeing a consumer who will not hesitate to switch retailers when problems occur. Consumers are frustrated by long checkout lines in store, annoyed by all the credentials required for an online purchase or finding out a product is out of stock after they have decided to buy.” – Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada. -Chris Powell

David Brown