Retailers shift to smart checkout, online selling amid health concerns

Photo by Melanie Lim

Shoppers expect a seamless experience between stores and online, and are increasingly placing orders online because of desired product availability. This resulted in a surge of e-commerce orders with nearly 60% of shoppers placing an order in the last three months, Zebra Technologies’ latest Global Shopper Study showed.

The study covered 4,175 shoppers, 577 retail associates and 412 retail executives from North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East who were interviewed in August and September 2020 by Azure Knowledge.

In Asia Pacific, 70% of shoppers prefer direct delivery of items rather than picking them up at a store, and 65% prefer shopping at stores with contactless payment options.

Globally, with more than one-fifth of shoppers returning an item purchased online, 57% of store associates are feeling significantly challenged by these returns. 

Out-of-stocks also remain a challenge and 41% of shoppers say this is the top reason for leaving stores without a purchase. This is followed by long checkout lines (32%) and an inability to find items (31%).

Mobile ordering from smartphones and tablets has experienced tremendous growth and been instrumental in helping maintain social distancing and adherence to local guidelines. Among shoppers, 72% used mobile ordering and 82% are highly likely to continue using it. 

Also, 64% of shoppers believe more retailers need to offer mobile ordering while 90% of decision-makers and 83% of agree mobile ordering would help meet customer expectations.

Almost half (47%) of respondents have interacted with self-checkouts in the last six months and more than six-tenths (63%) shoppers agree self-checkout solutions provide an improved customer experience. 

Meanwhile, 86% of retail decision-makers and 71% of store associates agree self-checkouts improve the customer experience. The same proportions believe self-checkouts free up employees to do higher priority tasks and better serve customers while helping meet health and safety mandates and protocols.

Currently, there is a sizable trust gap between retail decision-makers, shoppers and associates when it comes to health and safety. While approximately 90% of decision-makers think shoppers and associates trust them to make health and safety a priority, only 65% of shoppers and 77% of associates agree. 

Nearly two-thirds (67%) of shoppers are concerned with surface sanitation or social exposure in stores, and 59% of shoppers prefer stores with contactless payment options. Seven in 10 associates say social distancing/contact tracing apps would allow them to provide a better customer experience.

Fang-How Lim, Zebra’s regional director for Southeast Asia, said retailers must invest in analytics, mobile ordering, smart checkout, and other retail technology solutions that can enhance efficiency and accuracy like touch computers and mobile computers.