Despite Retail’s Growing Emphasis on Experience, Most Customers Want to Be Left Alone While Shopping in Stores

Ever walk into a department store and immediately get approached by a sales associate? If the experience has left you feeling less inclined to make a purchase, turns out you’re not alone.

According to a new survey by retail consulting firm HRC Retail Advisory, a whopping 95 percent of consumers prefer to be left alone while shopping unless they require the help of a sales associate. Polling about 2,900 people across the U.S. and Canada, the study analyzed spending habits and preferences to determine that a majority of shoppers look to in-store technology for customer service — indicating that they’re increasingly abandoning the hands-on and personalized service traditionally associated with salespeople and instead relying on friends’ and family’s opinions through social media to help in their decision-making.

Based on the survey, about 85 percent of consumers would rather check prices at scanners than interact with a sales associate for product information. Meanwhile, 76 percent said apps that provide personal recommendations are important to their shopping experience. (Other elements that make the shopping experience more enjoyable for customers, according to the survey, include the ability to reserve products online and pick them up in store as well as receive promotional and sales information directly from their smartphones.)

However, not all is lost for companies that put a greater emphasis on a helping hand; the advisory firm also reported that 52 percent of respondents agree that a sales associate who personally assists them in selecting products is crucial when they shop for technology-related items.

“As consumers begin favoring in-store technology over sales associates while they shop, retailers must adapt to shopper expectations in the store environment,” HRC president Farla Efros said. “Identifying the right technologies and pairing it with the right in-store experience for shoppers of different generations will be critical to retailers’ long-term success. Those that curate and customize the store experience and services to suit shoppers’ needs will see the benefits.”

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