Consumers are returning to the high street and demand for blended omnichannel experience emerges | NTT DATA

Thu, 09 February 2023

Consumers are returning to the high street and demand for blended omnichannel experience emerges

Almost 2 in 3 consumers would be encouraged to shop in-store if self-service or cashier-less checkouts are available.

New research by NTT DATA UK&I, a trusted global innovator for the retail industry, reveals new trends to high street shopping, with almost half of consumers (47%) preferring to visit the high street to shop for clothing in person. However, consumers’ readiness to shop in-store now comes with a new set of expectations that retailers will need to be prepared for if they are to engage and maintain new customers.

Over the past couple of years, consumers have been pushed to shop online more than ever, becoming accustomed to the enhanced personalisation capabilities and tightly tailored experience offered by online shopping. The problem, though, was the lack of realness – the lack of a sensory, traditional shopping experience that accompanies in-store retailing. Now, with consumers eager to return to shopping in stores, retailers need to be ready to accommodate them by delivering enhanced customer experiences.

NTT DATA UK&I’s research, which questioned a representative sample of 2,000 consumers in the UK, set out to discover what consumers are looking for when it comes to their retail experience in 2023. The findings show that 53% of consumers expect a clean and easy shopping experience in-store, facilitated by more immersive, personalised, and contactless services. The first port of call to improve the customer experience starts with streamlining the payments process, as almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) claimed self-service and cashier-less checkouts would encourage them to shop in-store more often.

The findings also uncovered that consumers now want to bring the online shopping experience into the store as well, having the option to view all information on a product, while still being able to have the traditional shopping experience. 1 in 5 respondents said the introduction of QR codes on products to view additional information that they would normally see online, such as prices, reviews, and the provenance of items, would greatly improve the in-store shopping experience. Other technologies that have grabbed consumers’ attention for the in-store shopping experience also include smart mirrors (16%), interactive display screens in-store (13%), and app integrations (13%), where customers can select items on an app which are automatically sent to the fitting room or checkout while they continue to browse the store.

For retailers, this means implementing new technology and resources that will help them gain insights into their shoppers' habits and preferences, allowing them to determine the ways they need to restrategise and retain their customers’ loyalty. This need will be especially important for luxury brands. With traditionally larger budgets to spend on new resources and technology, they have an opportunity to enhance the shopping experience by taking advantage of all available capabilities.

Key findings:

Technology can encourage consumers in-store for purchasing clothing:

  • 47% of consumers prefer to purchase clothing in-store on the high street. 
  • 53% of consumers want a clean and easy shopping experience in-store.
  • 61% say that the option to use a cashier-less or self-service checkout would encourage them to shop in-store when purchasing clothing.
  • 20% of consumers want to see QR codes in-store which share more information on the products they are buying.
  • 16% say that smart mirrors would encourage them to shop in-store when purchasing clothing.
  • 13% would be encouraged in-store by interactive display screens.
  • 13% would be encouraged in-store by app integrations which allow them to select items via the app to be sent to a fitting room or checkout while continuing to browse.

Geoff Lloyd, Director of Retail at NTT DATA UK&I, commented: “Consumers want to see more from retailers, especially after the online retail experience has evolved to become more personalised. By implementing the right, advanced digital systems to automate processes and offer additional insights, retailers can monitor their customers' behaviours more effectively, and match the customer experience to their needs appropriately.

“Access to predictive analytics will prove especially beneficial to retailers as they start building resilience, meeting customer demands and maximising sales. Additionally, reassessing their 2023 plans and ensuring that effective strategies are in place, both online and in-store, will ensure they are offering a consistent, tech-savvy experience to their shoppers.

“Data insights are, and will continue to be, essential for retailers. Not only will these insights help brands assess what their customers want from them, but it will also help to personalise the shopping experience, building loyalty and protecting future profitability.”

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