Key Findings from the Engageware State of Retail 2017 Survey Report

Consumers said they plan to shop in stores in 2017 as much (70 percent) if not more (14 percent) than they did last year, according to the new Engageware State of Retail 2017 survey report. But that figure is down 8 percentage points from the previous year’s survey. And it’s reasonable to speculate that the decline is due—at least in part—to the fact that consumers only “sometimes” (40 percent) or “never” (9 percent) feel they are receiving a personalized shopping experience from the stores they patronize.

These are just some of the findings from the new survey of 2,000 consumers conducted by Survey Sampling International (SSI) in November 2016.

As in the past, we designed this third annual survey of consumers’ retail experiences to capture the pulse of shoppers and identify what makes them shop where they shop, and how they feel about the service they receive.

Key survey findings include:

  • Brick-and-mortar shopping is alive and well. 82 percent of respondents said they still do half or more of their shopping in physical stores (excluding grocery stores).
  • The lure of the mall is tied to shoppers’ preference to touch and feel products before they buy (72 percent) and because they like the personal experience of having a store assistant provide help (29 percent).
  • Even when an item is available online—as well as in a nearby store—75 percent of respondents said they preferred to buy from a physical store.
  • Prompt service continues to be at the top of shoppers’ lists when they go into a store (47 percent). While receiving a personalized experience (26 percent) and smart recommendations (17 percent) are next.

Among the most interesting results of the survey is the willingness of consumers to put their money where their mouths are when it comes to paying more for store purchases—IF they receive more personalized service in return:

  • 41 percent of respondents would pay up to 5 percent more.
  • 43 percent would pay up to 10 percent more.
  • And 16 percent would pay up to an additional 20 percent.
  • Among millennial respondents (ages 21 to 35), nearly 70 percent said they would pay more for products or services if they had a highly personalized in-store experience
  • And 24 percent of millennials—more than any other group—would pay up to 20 percent more.

Talking about how much more consumers would be willing to pay for store purchases if they received better service is an abstract concept. But if you look at it from a dollars and cents perspective, the numbers are huge.

Based on U.S. Census Bureau figures for in-store retail sales in 2016 (excluding durable goods, food and beverage sales, gas station sales and other non-retail stores), total sales were $3.17 trillion. If you calculate the Engageware survey respondents who said they would pay more for better service, weighing the results by how much more they would be willing to pay, you get a total of $150 billion in 2016 revenue that retailers left on the table.

Had they generated that revenue by doing a better job of serving their customers, the brick-and-mortar retail sector would have increased their revenue by 4.7 percent. This additional revenue would represent a huge improvement for brick-and-mortar retailers, who are struggling to meet revenue, profit and stock valuation goals.

So, the bottom line of this year’s State of Retail is that consumers like to shop in stores, but they want better service—AND they’re willing to pay for it. Sounds like a recipe for success.

If only there were a way for retailers to provide their customers with that elusive “We’ve been expecting you” service by allowing them to schedule appointments for service from their computers, phones, etc. If only….

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