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Store Connectivity in the Age of the Digital DIY Shopper

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95% of shoppers pick tech-based help over in-store sales staff

Shoppers just want to be left alone. Really.

And that’s why retailers should care about network uptime. According to a survey of 2,903 consumers in the U.S. and Canada, 95% of shoppers would rather fend for themselves in a retail store than ask sales staff for help.

So, when retail associates greet shoppers with the standard phrase, “Can I help you?” the answer these days is overwhelming “No.”

But why?

Welcome to the age of the digital DIY shopper. This survey, unveiled by the folks at HRC Retail Advisory, suggests more shoppers are seeking help from technology – namely smartphones and social media – instead of salespeople when hunting for the perfect product in a store.

Drilling down into the findings …

  • smartphones: 34% said receiving sales and promotional information via their smartphones when they enter the store is important

  • in-store apps: 76% say an in-store app that provides personal recommendations via their smartphone is important

  • social media: almost 70% of Generation Z shoppers (aged 10 to 17) and 63 percent of millennial shoppers (aged 18 to 41) use social media while shopping in a store to share photos and solicit opinions on items from friends and family

This data bolsters a tidal wave of research pointing to the importance of in-store connectivity to today’s shopping experience.

Importance of in-store uptime

In a study from Zebra Technologies, 60% of the 7,500 shoppers surveyed said their retail experience improves if a sales associate uses mobile devices to help them in a brick-and-mortar store. (The survey defined in-store mobile devices as mobile computers with scanners, mobile POS devices, tablets, kiosks or stationary product information terminals.)

Mobile and digital technology is clearly taking over as the preferred form of customer service inside most retail stores. To use all these devices, however, customers and staff must have access to reliable, fast, secure Internet connectivity.

And it’s great – when it works. What happens to a retail store when connectivity crashes?

How downtime hits retail’s bottom line

Managers of big box stores, department stores, and other retailers were asked about the impact of Internet outages. Here’s how retail business is typically affected during a downtime incident based on the data analyzed from this inquiry:

  • 72% say they lose sales

  • 61% can’t process credit cards

  • almost three in four can’t run loyalty programs

  • more than 70% can’t use in-store digital signage

  • more than half say employee productivity suffers

They also say network downtime hurts their …

  • security: more than half say they can’t run security systems during an outage, putting their data systems at risk of a breach

  • reputation: 82% believe outages can hurt their brand reputation; almost one in three said a past outage has already incurred that damage

Most of the surveyed retailers say it usually takes about four hours to get their Internet service running again. Four hours! When a shopper is at your checkout, they’re not going to wait four hours for your Internet outage to end!

The cost of long checkout lines

How long will a shopper wait before abandoning their in-store purchase? According to a study by payments processor Adyen, 48% of polled shoppers are only willing to wait five minutes in a store lineup before calling it quits. So, the average four-hour time window it takes to restore Internet service obviously isn’t going to cut it with today’s impatient shoppers.

The case for failover protection

That’s why your retail operation needs failover protection powered by Adaptiv|SD-WAN.

“SD-WAN technology is changing the face of the entire retail landscape by creating secure store networks with faster performance, higher availability and lower cost,” says Todd Davis, Director of Marketing at Adaptiv Networks.

And finally (because who can end an exploration of retail shopping without mentioning pricing?), SD-WAN can typically deliver 10 times the network speed for 50% less than MPLS. For information on how your business can meet the needs of today’s digital DIY shopper, contact us today!