Technology key to retail success – cash no longer king

Retail and hospitality businesses that adopt the latest payment technologies instore are better at retaining customers and viewed as more trustworthy than their cash-only counterparts, according to research by Commonwealth Bank.

The research looked at the emotional and rational drivers behind customers’ perfect instore experiences, revealing inefficient customer service (68 per cent) and queuing (53 per cent) as two of the biggest contributors to a poor ‘retail therapy’ experience.

With 75 per cent of those surveyed using a credit/debit card as their primary payment method, the study indicated that cash is no longer king and digital is fast becoming the norm. Half would avoid a store if they have to wait to make a payment.

Just under half (47 per cent) of survey respondents believe retailers that use the latest technology are more in tune with their needs as a customer, with a further 74 per cent suggesting they would stay loyal to a business that offers personalisation.

Claire Roberts, executive general manager, local business banking, Commonwealth Bank, said: “Technology is reshaping the relationship between consumers and businesses. As more and more customers expect to be using the latest technology in store, those businesses not adopting new payment methods will be left behind.

“With recent advances in technology now available to businesses of any size, small and medium retailers have a new opportunity to transform point of sale and instore experiences to drive sales and encourage greater customer loyalty through repeat business.”

The study also revealed the impact of a negative instore experience on consumer purchasing:

  • 75 per cent of Australians said they would leave a store if they can’t easily access help/guidance/information
  • 72 per cent won’t buy from a store if they can’t easily find a product they want
  • 50 per cent will avoid a business if they have to queue for payment.

Dr Johann Ponnampalam, Deakin University behavioural scientist, said the findings speak to the human tendency to avoid friction.

“Much of our daily life involves habitual, autopilot behaviour. When in this mindset, we crave faster, simpler, easier service interactions and when we don’t receive them, we experience friction which often leads to us avoiding purchasing altogether.

“Our lives are more complex than ever before and consumers have an abundance of choice. In a retail environment, we are, at times, overwhelmed by choice. This leads to choice paralysis, which in-turn leads to avoiding purchase decisions and buyer’s remorse. The study shows that businesses need to work harder to help customers make informed, confident choices by providing personalised and relevant information during the retail experience,” he said.

Customers are calling for personalisation – more than half (58 per cent) of those surveyed believe retail businesses should do more to personalise their shopping experiences.

Ms Roberts continued: “Embracing technology allows businesses to better understand their customers, their marketplace and investigate, through data insights, how brand loyalty can be achieved. This in turn generates connections with customers that strengthen loyalty programs and with 84 per cent of Australians more likely to buy from a store they feel connected to, this is a telling trend. Technology can power loyalty.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • 47 per cent of Australians like to use technology when shopping to make their experience more efficient
  • 74 per cent of shoppers say that queueing makes their shopping experience more stressful
  • People most commonly feel their retail therapy is ruined by inefficient customer service (68 per cent)
  • 77 per cent of shoppers are more likely to return to a retail store that offers loyalty programs or customer offers
  • 84 per cent of shoppers are more likely to buy from a business they feel connected to
  • 82 per cent of shoppers are likely to spend more in a store when they feel like a valued customer
  • 74 per cent of people will stay loyal to a business that personalises their experience
  • Most important ‘retail therapy’ requests:
    • More efficient customer service (57 per cent)
    • Less time spent queuing (56 per cent)
    • The ability to split bills (43 per cent)
    • Flexible payment options (43 per cent).

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