While consumers may say they want a more personalized shopping interaction, they rank personalization behind service and experience, according to findings from the Evolution of Experience Retailing, which was recently conducted by Oracle.
Mike Webster, SVP and General Manager of Oracle Retail, said trust is a factor in the lack of interest in personalization. “If consumers have a high level of trust with a retailer they will be more open to personalization, but otherwise they are not,” he explained during an NRF BIG Show session in January, adding that 54% of respondents rated personalization as important or very important.
Webster said the survey intentionally did not define personalization, but most customers think of personalization in terms of promotions and offers.
The survey revealed that consumers want interactions that are “good for me,’” Webster said, which respondents defined as an experience that meets expectations locally and culturally and is appropriate in terms of the level, frequency and intimacy of the interaction between the retailer and the consumer.
Service is increasingly important, with 88% of respondents listing this as very or fairly important. Webster said retailers will have to continue to deploy technology to meet consumer expectations. “The balance of power has shifted to the consumer,” he noted. “The consumer has way more information than the associate in the aisle.”
While Webster said it may seem counter-intuitive, consumers in growing retail markets place a higher value on the shopping experience than those in more established markets. “You might think that in high-growth markets such as Brazil and China consumers might not be as focused on the shopping experience and that retailers could get by with providing a lower level of service,” he remarked. “But the exact opposite is true. They value [the experience] more than shoppers in slow-growth areas such as Japan.”
In response to the question “How important is service to you when shopping?” 98% of those surveyed in Brazil and China listed it as very or fairly important, of marginally less importance in the UK, U.S., Russia and Germany (at 90%, 89%, 87% and 81% respectively), while more than one-quarter of Japanese registered “neither important or unimportant,” as their response.
When it comes to online shopping, retailers should focus on enabling commerce anytime, anywhere (56% of respondents) and easily navigable channels online (61%). In the store, consumers want product showcases (62%) and a vibrant, engaging environment (56%).
Price, product and choice are motivating factors for shoppers, Webster added, which pushed Amazon.com to the top of the list of favorite retailers. “Amazon was selected as the most favorite retailer in every market in which they have a presence,” he noted. “This indicates that it is not just price, but choice, that is driving the consumer, as Amazon has a product assortment that is 78 times that of a typical general merchandise retailer.”
Oracle commissioned the survey in August 2012 to examine the evolving marketplace and what this means in terms of meeting the retail requirements of consumers between 18 and 60 years of age in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, the UK and U.S., looking at fundamental retail principles including service, experience and consumer preferences, in addition to shopping trends and attitudes toward technology.