Retailers Resist Consumers’ Demand For Real-Time Smartphone Promos

About 50 percent of shoppers say they look forward to receiving deals while in-store — but a mere 7 percent of retailers are satisfying that expectation, Accenture finds.

The number of mobile consumers shopping “on the go” was up 10 percent in the past year, from 36 percent of consumers in 2014 to 40 percent in 2015, according to an Accenture Retail survey of 10,000 people in 13 countries. And the message from those shoppers to retailers is clear:  47 percent say they want more in-store promotions delivered to their smartphones.

It’s worth noting that even as 40 percent of consumers made that same plea in 2014, last year, only 7 percent of retailers said they had the capability to fulfill that call.

As for particular needs that connected consumers want met while in-store, there was a 60 percent rise in the number of shoppers who want the ability to order out-of-stock products when shopping — that number was 27 percent in 2015, up from 17 percent in 2014.

Some retailers are already meeting that request, with almost half (46 percent) employing store staff who can order out-of-stock items for customers; still, just 9 percent have in-store kiosks for customers to place those orders.

The Retailer/Shopper Disconnect

While 67 percent of shoppers say they generally find store’s environments and product quality “satisfactory,” only 52 percent were happy with interaction with staff and delivery, and 51 percent with the online needs and the ability to seamlessly return items in-store.

Among the other chief stats from the Accenture survey:

  • Only 1 percent of retailers provide their sales staff with tablets allowing them to easily access the personal history of customers while they shop in-store.
  • 68 percent of retailers have knowledgeable staff who can give detailed product information.
  • When it comes to delivery, 56 percent of retailers have next-day delivery capabilities, 11 percent offer same-day, 49 percent can schedule delivery on a specific day, 57 percent allow consumers to return online orders to the physical store and 39 percent have “click & collect” capabilities.

“Retailers must make every effort to improve their mobile commerce capabilities and keep up with consumers expectations,” said Patricia Walker, senior managing director in Accenture’s Products practice and the company’s North America Retail Practice lead.

“To be an adaptive retailer, the experience needs to be seamless experience for consumers who expect mobile devices to ease the shopping experience, both online and in-store.”

Cool vs. Creepy

One of the issues marketers worry about when it comes to adopting greater one-to-one messaging to consumers’ smartphones is the “creep factor” (or the “annoyance factor,” if you will). The idea of an opt-in program, whether through wi-fi channels or beacons, is one way to address that issue of reaching only those consumers who have an expressed that interest in allowing a connection to the retailer’s messages.

But there are still minefields in terms of what consumers find concerning.

Accenture Retail found that 41 percent of shoppers think that having sales associates who know the items in their online wish list or shopping basket is “creepy” — comparatively, only 29 percent think such knowledge is “cool.” And yet, 45 percent of shoppers say that an Amazon-like retail site that automatically tailors to “who I am, what I like, and what I have previously purchased” is “cool.” In other words, there are a lot of fine lines to navigate.

While more than half (56 percent) of shoppers see promotional offers as falling into that cool territory, another 41 percent think that getting recommendations based on social media is “creepy.” More than half of shoppers (55 percent) want websites optimized for mobile devices, while 16 percent consider that “creepy.”

Here too, allowing for clearer opt-in measures is a must to be able to separate out those who are more inclined to feeling “creeped out” by too much personalized marketing being directed at them versus those who would like a little more breathing room.

“This year’s survey confirms that retailers have begun to adapt to the evolving needs of their customers,” Accenture’s Walker said. “However, the challenge they face is investing in building the important digital elements of their channel strategy while remaining focused on driving profits which in many cases is still primarily driven by stores. Retailers need to understand however, that they are actually involved in a race that will likely accelerate as consumers continually seek more value, greater convenience, and better customer experience across all channels.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.