Technology Can Bring Shoppers Inside

By improving their in-store technology, brick-and-mortar retailers have a chance to bring back shoppers that have switched to online shopping and retain those customers that have yet to try e-commerce, according to a study by Indiana University and KPMG.

Shoppers are willing to embrace in-store technologies that will give consumers more product information and make shopping quicker and more convenient, according to the study released at the International Mass Retailers Association (IMRA) convention.

“While everyone is focusing on the Internet, in-store technologies and the integration of online and in-store activities may have an even greater impact on the future of retailing,” said Professor Raymond Burke of Indiana University. “Many of the benefits of online shopping can be delivered in the physical store. Our survey shows that consumers respond enthusiastically to these in-store technologies.”

The survey tested 11 different technologies (3 online, 8 in-store) that directly impact how retailers interact with customers. Customers responded most positively to electronic point-of-sale signage such as liquid crystal displays that show the name and price of merchandise, taking the place of price tags. Ninety-two percent of the customers surveyed said they would use such technology when shopping, 50 percent said it would be a big advantage when shopping, and 64 percent said a store that implements such technology provides better service.

Self-scanning, a hand-held bar code reader that enables shoppers to scan and tally purchases while shopping, was the next most favorably received of the technologies. Eighty percent of those surveyed felt that it would provide an advantage while shopping, while 53 percent of consumers said a store that provided such a technology would be “fun to shop.”

In contrast, online shopping from home was considered the least fun to shop of all the technologies surveyed. Only 26 percent of those surveyed felt shopping from home online was fun.

Other technologies that consumers took an interest in include product information kiosks and hand-held shopping assistants. More than 70 percent of the consumers surveyed believed they would benefit from retailers’ adoption of in-store technologies, while only 9 percent of the respondents said they believed these new technologies would be a disadvantage.

“It’s easy to say that conventional retailers need to respond to the competitive pressures of the online channel,” said Mark Larson of KPMG. “The hard part is determining how precious resources should be invested. Our survey finds that in-store technologies can have tremendous impact on a retailer’s ability to build customer relationships, maintain customer loyalty, and bolster areas like service.”

The study was based on written interviews with 2,413 consumers who reflect the demographic and geographic profile of the US population.

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