What are Customers Looking for at Points of Sale?

The retail sector is going through a period of great change. For years, with the growth of online commerce, retail establishments are no longer seen as places to be visited.

Traditionally, customers visited physical stores with one clear goal: to shop.But now this need is largely satisfied through online shopping. Big players in this field, such as Amazon or Alibaba – for example – satisfy the needs of those who simply want to get their hands on a product in a quick and convenient way.

But, despite pessimistic predictions of the disappearance of physical commerce in a few years, the reality is that the retail sector is experiencing a rebirth.Companies like HMY work tirelessly to create experiences that draw customers to points of sale. Experiences that, in addition to being engaging on their own, also encourage consumerism and create new needs within customers. But what do customers expect when they are enjoying these experiences?

The Expectations of Customers at the Point of Sale

In a study done by Manhattan Associateson the retail sector in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, four major points were analyzed which customers expect at the point of saleand which the retail industry can adapt to.

1· A Uniform Experience Across Different Sales Channels

Customers are looking for meaningful experiencesevery time they go shopping, and they don't want to give these up when they're shopping on different channels.What they are looking for is for a uniform level of experience no matter what channel they are shopping with, and they do not want the choice of one channel over another to detract from their experience.

In all the regions analyzed in this study as a whole, more than 70% of customers perceived differences when making purchases with different sales channels. This is a very high percentage that is only somewhat lessened in Germany and the Netherlands, where the percentage falls to 61% and 55%, respectively.

On the other hand, retailers have a different perspective. In fact, among vendors, only an average of 12% consider the homogenization of shopping experiences between different channels a priority. The country with the most awareness of this is Sweden, with 40% of their vendors prioritizing this, whereas in Spain, despite consumer expectations, vendors are not planning on investing in this area in the short term.

2· Attentive and Helpful Employees

Another important thing to customers when they come to points of sale is the attentiveness of employees. While employees once had very specific and diversified tasks, now they have come to be seen as consultants or advisers.Consumers view them as experts in all the products offered at that location and they seek their opinions and recommendations on whatever they need.

In fact, in areas such as the Netherlands, Germany or Spain, the main function of personnel at physical points of sale is seen as that of an advisor, not only with knowledge of available stock, but also of their own experience with the related products.

3· Personalized Treatment and Recommendations

When customers are shopping online, they normally receive recommendations for similar or complementary productsto their purchases. According to the study by Manhattan Associates, this is very much appreciated by customers in the regions of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

In fact, in Spain and Italy, most customers find that these recommendations and suggestions make them feel like they are receiving personalized treatment more effectively than other support. Custom offers or exclusive discountsalso accomplish this.

All of these combined approaches definitely influence customer loyalty and, to implement them, companies have to take advantage of all the resources that are available to them. As we have already mentioned, at HMY we believe that innovation and the integration of digital solutions can have a definitive impacton business performance and, in this case, it also provides a more personalized relationship with each one of our customers.

4· Product Availability on All Channels

From the three previous points, it is clear that customers are interested in seeingmore integration between a company's different sales channels so that they can have a unique, exclusive and personalized experience.

True integration between the different sales channels can only be achieved if inventory and the availability of the products are completely integrated and updated.

This is one of the top priorities for customers, as well as for vending companies. In fact, according to the study by Manhattan Associates, achieving this is a priority for most of Europe's retail trade companies.

Innovation is a Critical Part of Meeting Customer Expectations

As we have been saying and doing at HMY, innovation plays a critical role in meeting the demands of our end consumers. With online sales channels, there are many more emerging factors which allow us to offer unique experiences to our customers.

But in order to ensure that these experiences are complete in addition to being unique, all sales channels must be fully integrated, and digital technology will play a decisive role in this for the next few years.

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