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Exploring the 21st Century Retail Customer Experience

The realm of Retailing is currently undergoing significant changes across the globe.  Cisco Systems, Inc. released the results of a new market study, focused on the evolving retail shopping experience.  Their report examined the impact of automation, self-service and omni-channel shopping experiences -- plus, consumer views about providing their personal information in exchange for more personalized services.

The majority (61 percent) of global consumers are open to shopping at a fully automated "self service" store with vending machines and kiosk stations offering a virtual customer service. 

Additionally, when "checking out," the majority of consumers globally (52 percent) prefer self-check-out stations in order to avoid waiting in line to make purchases.

The younger consumers were the most accepting of this retail shopping experience: 57 percent of Generation Y (aged 18-29) and 55 percent of Generation X shoppers (aged 30 to 49) prefer self-check-out, while baby boomers (50+) represent only 45 percent.

Overall, the report demonstrates consumer interest in more automated and personalized shopping experiences, the type of connections made possible by what Cisco describes as the Internet of Everything (IoE).

The Internet of Everything phenomenon brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before. Cisco recently released an Internet of Everything economic analysis that identified a $14.4 trillion in bottom-line business value that will be created over the next decade by the Internet of Everything innovations.

Highlights and Key Facts from the Study

The Cisco Customer Experience Report surveyed 1,511 consumers across 10 countries to examine the perceptions of consumers on their desired retail shopping experience.
Omni-Channel Shopping Experience
  • One-third (34 percent) of global consumers use multiple channels when shopping.  The survey shows 23 percent of consumers recently made in-store purchases based on research they did online, and 11 percent of shoppers purchased online after seeing it in a retail store.
Convenience of Self-Service and Automated Buying
  • Avoiding lines: The majority of consumers globally (52 percent) prefer self-check-out stations in order to avoid waiting in line to make a purchase.
  • Price check/product availability: When researching products in the store, 43 percent prefer using their own mobile phone, while 57 percent of consumers prefer using in-store touch screens.  
  • Rise of the digital mall: The majority (61 percent) of global consumers would be willing to shop in a completely automated store with vending machines with products and kiosk stations offering virtual customer service. And 42 percent of consumers would prefer to shop in these kinds of environments.
  • Automated milkman: Almost half (49 percent) of consumers would allow an automated engine to make purchases for replacement products automatically. This could include restocking milk in the refrigerator. 
  • Budget tracking: Half of global consumers (52 percent) would likely purchase a device to help them stay on budget for clothing and other retail purchases.
  • Automated shopping tips: Two-thirds (65 percent) of global consumers are comfortable receiving retail advice based on their location through their mobile device.
In-Person Assistance When Shopping
  • Desire for more personal customer service: Although many shoppers want automation when purchasing, consumers are evenly divided, with 58 percent of consumers preferring help from an in-store associate. And when shopping online, slightly more consumers prefer to instant-message with a sales associate (30 percent), or call one on the phone (28 percent) than send an email (27 percent).