Shoppers are actively avoiding self-checkouts in favour of staffed tills according to a report that says consumers “value experience and the human touch.”
The data from retail property magnates Hammerson reveals that 59% of shoppers “always prefer to use a till staffed by a person,” and 44% try to avoid using self-checkouts, calling them “irritating” and “difficult to use.”
Speaking at the launch of the report, professor of consumer behaviour at Middlesex University, Charles Dennis said the highest rated customer experience is still face to face retail, though mobile purchasing is second.
John Lewis property director Jeremy Collins said the focus on customer experience over technology was driving a “back to the future” approach. He said: “Years ago it was all about seeking products people need and supplying the best possible service. These basics still apply, the landscape is just more competitive. Your staff need not only to be as informed as rival stores, but also as informed as what product information the customer is likely to come across online.”
The experts attending the launch outlined the rules for implementing technology to improve customer service in store, with Charles Dennis saying that: “Technology should help a customer or help the buying process, not make the retailer a slave to it.”
Reassuringly for convenience retailers, Hammerson managing director Mark Bourgeois said the drive for customer service means more retailers were “moving back to a more convenience based model.”
The John Lewis property director suggested fears that one hour delivery models such as Amazon Fresh, Sainsbury’s and Tesco could threaten traditional stores are overstated as “convenience isn’t speed, it’s service.” He instead suggested that click and collect was the more powerful offering as it gives customers more flexibility.
While the experts agreed that convenience was “an expanding market”, the professor said fierce competition from discounters and the growth of mobile payments will force independents to keep pace with technology “whether they like it or not.”
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