retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Internet Retailer reports on a new study from Accenture saying that “73% of shoppers with smartphones favor using their smartphone to handle simple tasks in stores compared with 15% who favor interaction with an employee, the survey says.  Similarly, 71% favor using their smartphone to identify a store with a desired item in stock, while 17% would prefer to get that information by speaking to an employee.”

The story continues: “The survey presents good news for retailers that have taken the plunge and created mobile apps. 69% of smartphone users are aware of smartphone apps from large retailers and 48% have downloaded at least one app. 90% of consumers who have downloaded an app from a large retailer found it ‘very useful’ or ‘useful.’

“The survey also found that smartphone users would find it useful to download coupons to their phones (79%) and receive instant coupons as they pass by an item in a store (73%). But privacy remains an important concern of consumers. 54% of respondents worry that using smartphones will erode their privacy.”

“Smartphones will permanently change the relationship between the store and the shopper,” Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture’s retail practice, tells Internet Retailer. “Today’s tech-savvy consumer wants a seamless shopping experience across store, mobile or online at a time that suits them. Ultimately, this trend will lead to a new definition of the store; purpose, place and size are all up for debate. Already we are seeing some shoppers treating stores more like a showroom to test products and then making their purchase online.”
KC's View:
This actually goes back to a discussion that we were having yesterday in “Your Views,” in which one MNB user thought that I am anti-people, anti-brick and mortar stores, and believe that technology provides better solutions in terms of service and transparency.

I would argue that every retailer has the opportunity to turn its people - whether at the checkout, in service departments or in the aisles - into the stars of the show...or at least, into critically important supporting actors that provide the retailer with an enormous differential advantage. But too few do that.

Too many view their people as costs, not assets.

We can blame customers for preferring technology to people, or we can shoot the messenger. who talks about this issue. But I think those approaches are misguided - that the real blame falls to retailers who do not use people to their greatest advantage.