Zebra Technologies Survey: Social Distancing Apps May Improve Customer Experience

Zebra says most shoppers are concerned with social exposure in stores and express a strong preference for contactless payment options.

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. — Zebra Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ: ZBRA) has released the results of its 13th annual Global Shopper Study.

The survey is billed as the industry’s only market tracker that analyzes the attitudinal behavior of shoppers, retail associates and retail executives and examines the retail and technology trends impacting shoppers’ purchasing behavior, both in-store and online.

Safety Now Part of In-Store Experience

Consumer and associate confidence can be increased when precautions or safety measures are put into place. Currently, there is a sizable trust gap between retail decision-makers, shoppers and associates when it comes to health and safety. While approximately 90% of decision-makers think shoppers and associates trust them to make health and safety a priority, only 65% of shoppers and 77% of associates agree.

The coronavirus pandemic would appear to be on the minds of shoppers and associates. Nearly two-thirds (67%) of shoppers are concerned with surface sanitation or social exposure in stores, and 59% of shoppers prefer stores with contactless payment options. Seven-in-10 associates say social distancing/contact tracing apps would allow them to provide a better customer experience.\

“Our study found that shoppers’ in-store and online satisfaction significantly declined this year due to out-of-stocks, product variety, online delivery cost and timing and returns,” says Jeff Schmitz, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Zebra Technologies. “Retailers are aware that success hinges on elevating the shopper experience and investments in analytics, mobile ordering and smart checkout will provide a more seamless and satisfying omnichannel experience.”

Growth in Mobile Ordering

Retail decision-makers and store associates have seen a dramatic increase in the need for convenience and efficiency as the pandemic has catapulted shoppers’ usage and affinity for mobile ordering and smart-checkout solutions. Mobile ordering — from smartphones and tablets — has experienced tremendous growth and been instrumental in helping maintain social distancing and adherence to local guidelines.

Seventy-two percent of shoppers used mobile ordering and 82% of those shoppers are highly likely to continue using it. Millennials (88%) and Gen X (79%) shoppers were the primary users of mobile ordering but nearly half of Boomers (47%) used it too, and 74% of them are likely to continue using it in the future. Sixty-four percent of shoppers believe more retailers need to offer mobile ordering while the vast majority of decision-makers (90%) and store associates (83%) agree mobile ordering would help meet customer expectations.

Smart-Checkout Leads to Better Experience

Approximately half (47%) of surveyed shoppers have interacted with self-checkouts in the last six months and more than six-in-10 (63%) shoppers agree self-checkout solutions provide an improved customer experience. While agreement is highest among Millennials at 73%, 66% of Gen X shoppers and 50% of Boomers have also realized an improved customer experience from self-checkout solutions in the last year.

Meanwhile, 86% of retail decision-makers and 71% of store associates agree self-checkouts improve the customer experience. Almost nine-in-10 decision-makers and more than seven-in-10 associates believe self-checkouts freed employees up to do higher priority tasks and better serve customers while helping meet health and safety mandates and protocols.

Zebra’s annual study found shoppers expect a seamless experience between stores and online and are increasingly placing orders online because of desired product availability, resulting in a surge of ecommerce orders with nearly 60% placing an order in the last three months. With more than one-fifth of shoppers returning an item purchased online, 57% of store associates are feeling significantly challenged by these returns.

Out-of-stocks also remain a challenge and 41% of shoppers say this is the top reason for leaving stores without a purchase. This is followed by long checkout lines (32%) and an inability to find items (31%) both representing a marked increase from last year.

The complete Zebra Global Shopper Study can be downloaded here. Registration is required.

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