Only 2% of UK consumers say retailers know what they like when shopping – down from 4% a year ago, research by Omnico has found.
This failure in personalising the shopping experience was revealed in the fourth Omnico Retail Gap Barometer* surveying 1,215 UK consumers and their interactions with retailers across all channels.
72% of shoppers said retailers can do more to improve the overall shopping experience, while the overall score measuring performance across all channels fell from 72 a year ago to 69 in the current survey.
"It is disappointing to see that UK retail still has so much further to go in meeting consumers' expectations. On some indicators it is actually travelling backwards," said Mel Taylor, CEO Omnico Group. "While it may seem comforting that the percentage of shoppers saying retailers can improve has fallen from 81% to the current 72%, we can see that the rest of the picture is far from rosy. There was for example, a double-digit year-on-year drop in the percentage of respondents saying they had enjoyed a seamless experience between online and in-store shopping."
The research found that half of all shoppers (51%) said they had a seamless experience between online and in-store, compared with 62% last year.
Returns policies still remain a big bugbear too, with half of all respondents (50%) saying a free returns policy for online purchases is "very important", which is an increase of 19% on last year. Almost a third (31%) said they want to return unwanted goods by any method, irrespective of how they bought them.
The increase in smartphone use was also reflected in the 19% of consumers who said that one of the most urgent improvements needed in retail is the ability to order and pay for everything on a smartphone. This was an increase of 5% on the same figure in last year's research.
"The pressure on retailers to adapt to consumer expectations is constantly being intensified, whether online, in-store or via mobile," added Taylor. "Amazon's huge investment in technology to recognise customers however they browse or shop, now includes the physical environment in their bricks-and-mortar outlets. It is a significant precedent, one that not all retailers have yet to realise."
*About the Omnico Retail Gap Barometer: Consumers were asked to rate their experience using a total of 20 answers under five question headings. The respondents were required to rank each of the answers from very poor to outstanding, with poor scoring one and outstanding scoring five.
Using the scores, the barometer has established a set of benchmarks measuring the performance of UK retailers in meeting customers' omni-channel expectations.