Entering the 2022 holiday season, consumers are increasingly embracing a hybrid shopping experience that couples in-store visits with digital tools that optimize the buying process, according to a global survey of nearly 3,000 customers commissioned by Sinch
Shoppers prefer retailers that super-charge the in-person experience by layering on a level of automation and efficiency before they even enter the store. For example, a whopping 92 percent of consumers would message a chatbot to check if a product is in stock before making a trip to the store, while 73 percent want to visit a store and then make a final purchase on their mobile phones, often from within the store itself.
Consumers are open to messaging or chatting with retailers, but are frustrated by one-sided conversations or delayed responses:
Shoppers are open to messaging retailers for initiating product returns, exchanges and refunds (90 percent), getting updates on items left in their online carts (89 percent) or completing a customer satisfaction survey (77 percent). But more than half (53 percent) of consumers are frustrated when they can’t respond to mobile messages from businesses.
More than half (54 percent) of respondents have messaged a retailer on a social platform, believing it a faster path to answers than going to a store, sending an email or making a phone call. Yet only a quarter of the queries receive an instant response, while 75 percent of those messages take anywhere from several hours to more than a day — or, they go completely unanswered. These delays carry real consequences — particularly as more consumers are making purchases directly through these social media channels after viewing products in store — driving the majority of them (54 percent) to shop elsewhere.
“Just as it has in our home and work lives, the line between physical and digital experiences when shopping has become increasingly blurred. The winners this holiday shopping season will be the retailers that do more than just optimize online- and in-store processes. Adding rich messaging, chatbots or other conversational technologies into the mix will meet shoppers how and where they want to engage,” said Jonathan Bean, Chief Marketing Officer, Sinch. “Direct messaging — and its inferred immediacy — is woven into every aspect of consumers’ lives, and they clearly expect brands and retailers to keep pace, or they will take their business elsewhere.”