The consulting firm conducted two pieces of research: the Accenture Adaptive Retail report, which surveyed more than 10,000 consumers in 13 countries including Canada; and a benchmarking study involving 162 retailers in 10 countries.
The consumer survey found nearly half of global shoppers (47%) and 44% of Canadian consumers wanted more retail services via mobile devices, particularly real-time in-store promotions. However, only 7% of retailers said they currently have the ability to send real-time promotions.
Retailers lag in a number of other areas:
- 32% of global shoppers want to be able to scan products in-store using their mobile devices—up from 27% in 2014—but only 17% of retailers provide scanning capabilities
- 42% of global shoppers and 28% of Canadian consumers want to receive automatic credit for coupons and discounts via their mobile phones, but only 16% of retailers have this capability
- Nearly half of global consumers (49%) and 50% of Canadian consumers want the ability to check product availability online prior to going to the store, but only 28% of retailers offer this capability
“There’s certainly a gap between what consumers are asking for and what retailers are capable of delivering,” said Robin Sahota, managing director, retail at Accenture in Canada. For consumers, “mobile device capabilities that used to be nice-to-haves are now becoming must-haves as part of the shopping experience.”
Globally, 40% of consumers used their smartphones more frequently to find goods and services, up from 36% in 2014. In Canada, the number is much lower at 25%, “partly because retailers don’t necessarily have the capabilities that consumers are looking for yet,” said Sahota.
While the vast majority of retailers have smartphone-optimized websites (93%) and tablet-optimized websites (89%), only 58% of retailers globally have smartphone apps with purchase capabilities. Sahota believes that number is lower for Canada.
“Adaptability has now become the new hallmark for retailers in terms of developing successful strategies because technology is changing very quickly,” said Sahota. “Retailers need to be more agile than ever before in terms of meeting consumer demands, which are also accelerating.”
CREEPY VS. COOL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCES
While consumers want a more personalized experience, retailers have to strike the right balance between cool and creepy. “Certainly shoppers want retailers to improve the customer experience without invading their personal space,” said Sahota.
The Accenture survey found 75% of global shoppers (and the same percentage of Canadian consumers) believed a retailer’s ability to automatically adjust the price of items for loyalty points and other discounts is a “cool” offering, while only 6% said it’s “creepy.”
On the creepier side, 41% of global shoppers and 56% of Canadian consumers think having sales associates who know the items in their online wish list or shopping basket is “creepy.”
“This is the concept of carrying over carts across different channels,” said Sahota. “It’s not something that is readily available in Canada and therefore, Canadian consumers think it’s pretty creepy.”
“The challenge with consumers is they don’t know how the retailer is getting this information and that’s what makes it creepy,” he added. “There’s the perception that the retailer is monitoring the consumer and for some people, that makes them uncomfortable.”
The survey also found 45% of shoppers said a retail website that automatically tailors to “who I am, what I like and I have previously purchased” is “cool.” And while 56% of shoppers see promotional offers as “cool,” 41% think receiving recommendations based on social media is “creepy.”
“It’s very important that retailers understand their customers, as well as understand their evolving expectations,” said Sahota. “What might be creepy today might be cool in a couple years, as things become more common and customers understand where the information is coming from.”
“But the most important thing for a retailer to consider is in order to get information from the consumer, they need to give the consumer something in exchange. There has to be a reciprocal relationship here.”
The full report can be found here.