Shoppers Want Sales Associates to Leave Them Alone — Unless They’re Doing This

As an increasing number of retailers work toward finding their omnichannel sweet spot, research is providing more insight into exactly what consumers want from fashion firms. (Hint: There are a few particulars.)

A new study by Chicago-based research firm HRC Retail Advisory this week found that 83 percent of consumers would rather use their smartphones for help while shopping in stores — preferring to be left alone by sales associates.

Still, while today’s digital savvy consumer wants to use their mobile device to compare costs, share photos of products with friends and read online reviews, when its time to checkout, their desire for the human experience is rekindled. Specifically, 72 percent of those HRC surveyed said they would prefer to check out with a sales associate.

“Smartphones are an instrumental part of the shopping journey and have become a pseudo- salesperson for the consumer,” said HRC president Farla Efros. “Retailers must understand the connections shoppers have to their mobile devices and merge offline and online channels to create a seamless experience in-store.”

Among those shoppers who reported using their smartphone in-store, HRC found that more than half are using them to inform their product purchase decision. More specifically, about 59 percent are comparing costs or searching for deals and coupons; 51 percent are sharing pictures of products for feedback from family and friends; 47 percent of consumers are reading product reviews; and 46 percent are researching product information.

In order to take advantage of the key nuances in consumer behavior and also earn their loyalty, Efros advises that retailers add more tech-savvy strategies to their mix. Among her suggestions: Fashion firms should give shoppers access to mobile offers, provide free Wi-Fi and empower sales associates with smartphones or tablets to provide relevant product information.

A similar study by HRC in March found that a whopping 95 percent of consumers prefer to be left alone while shopping unless they require the help of a sales associate to purchase things like tech items or resolve complicated issues.

For that study, the firm polled about 2,900 people — ages 10 to 73 years old — across the U.S. This time around, HRC focused on younger cohorts, surveying 800 people — between the ages of 10 and 41 years old — about their attitudes and behaviors as they relate to shopping and shopping influencers.

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