New Survey Finds 83% of Consumers Use Smartphones In-Store, Preferring to be Left Alone By Sales Associates

In an effort to control their own retail journey, 83% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping in-store, according to a new study by leading strategic retail advisory firm HRC Retail Advisory (HRC).

Preferring to be left alone by sales associates, these shoppers are using their mobile phones to compare costs, look for deals, share photos of products with friends and family, and gather intelligence by reading online reviews before making a purchase decision. However, when it comes to checkout, shoppers’ self-reliance and enthusiasm for using their smartphone shifts sharply, with 72% of respondents surveyed saying they would prefer to check-out from a sales associate.

To better understand the role of smartphones in the shopping journey as well as what features shoppers value most in-store, HRC recently surveyed 800 millennial and Generation Z consumers in North America on their attitudes and behaviors and the influences driving their purchase decisions.

“Smartphones are an instrumental part of the shopping journey and have become a pseudo- salesperson for the consumer,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC. “Retailers must understand the connections shoppers have to their mobile devices and merge offline and online channels to create a seamless experience in-store. By giving shoppers access to mobile offers, providing free Wi-Fi and empowering sales associates with smartphones or tablets to provide relevant product information, retailers can earn back customer loyalty and provide an intuitive, enjoyable store experience.”

Among those shoppers who reported using their smartphone in-store, more than half are using them to inform their product purchase decisions. Specifically, shoppers are using their mobile devices to:

• Compare Costs and Seek Deals. 59% of all shoppers surveyed said that they use smartphones in-store to compare costs or search for deals and coupons.
• Share Photos with Friends and Family. 51% said that they use their smartphones while shopping to share pictures of products in an effort to solicit opinions from family and friends.
• Read Reviews and Get Product Info. Shoppers are also using their mobile devices to learn more information about products. In fact, 47% are using smartphones to read product reviews and 46% using mobile devices to research product information.

Even when shopping specifically for clothes or shoes, the in-store features favored most by respondents are those that create a more flexible and convenient experience. 76% of shoppers ranked the option to buy online and pick up in store as a valuable store experience, and 67% cited the ability to reserve products online and try on in-store as important. Most shoppers surveyed shared that dressing room technology, in-store events and personal shoppers were not considered as valuable as technology that enables them to buy when and how they like.

HRC Retail Advisory’s survey findings are based on a targeted sample of two distinct demographics: millennials (ages 18–41) and Generation Zers (children ages 10–17). The sample size was 800. Respondents were asked about their attitudes and behaviors as they relate to shopping and shopping influencers. The survey was conducted September 12–18, 2018, and was completed through proprietary sample sources among panelists who participate in online surveys.

HRC Retail Advisory is a leading strategic retail advisory firm that helps retailers protect and enhance their financial performance.

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