When you think of amazing omnichannel experiences, do Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Apple make the top of your list? They did for the 1,000 people we surveyed who regularly shop both online and in-store. The goal of the survey was to understand which industries provide omnichannel shoppers across the country the best and worst retail experiences. To be honest, I had to sit with the Walmart finding for a while. My in-store experience of Walmart is full of uncertainty about inventory location, as well as long lines in the self-service checkout area.
However, when I unpacked this finding, I found that the key to these retailers success is the strong connection they have built between online and in-store activities. The accessibility of a physical store and knowing the inventory they have in stock for in-store pickup has been the key to their success. Walmart’s entry into the grocery business reinforces this point as the grocery industry ranked #1 in Best Overall Customer Experience, according to our survey. Cable and automotive industries came in last.
Many articles point to omnichannel capabilities as the reason for such high scores. In addition to customer service, free shipping, and easy returns, almost 50% of consumers said that having a consistent and connected experience between online and in-store is a significant driver of satisfaction. With brick and mortar stores blending their online and offline experiences in order to stay relevant, consumer expectations are growing rapidly.
This leads us to automotive retail, rated as the industry second most in need of modernization, behind only the cable industry. I recently came across data from Qualtrics stating that the Net Promoter Score for automotive retailers has declined significantly over the past 3 years, going from 48 to 39. It isn’t that the experience has taken a turn for the worse, it is that customer satisfaction with car buying is influenced by the buying experiences consumers have elsewhere, especially for everyday purchases like they would make at the Apple store — fast, easy & transparent. In fact, according to our survey, the #1 modification that would improve the car dealership experience is keeping the salesperson with the customer from start to finish, which would streamline the experience and build more trust. For the first time, we see this has become just as important, if not slightly more so, than transparent pricing and inventory selection.
This finding ties back to the Time Study Roadster did at the end of last year which found that sales people tend to leave a customer’s side on average every 20 minutes, resulting in an hour of time wasted. In a world in which we have been conditioned by the likes of Amazon to expect same-day retail gratification, it is not hard to believe that customers want to expedite the car buying process. The more they can do digitally before they head into the store, the better.
And, here’s the real kicker. More than half of consumers we surveyed said that having a positive experience is even more important than price. In fact, 80% stated that they would pay up to 10% more to ensure a fast, transparent & painless car buying experience. Great news for the bottom line of the industry at large.
While technology to facilitate this type of experience is available today, it isn’t automatic and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes preparation and planning to modernize a shopping experience and connect online experiences to the in-store transaction. The reality is that you won’t get it perfect out the gate. When we talk to our most successful dealer partners, they tell us that having a plan and being prepared to iterate on it is an absolute necessity.
As I mentioned at the start, my own in-store experience at Walmart has left much to be desired. Even Walmart hasn’t gotten it 100% right yet. It is a good reminder to not be too hard on ourselves as we adapt to change.
But, isn’t it time to at least start?
Want to learn more? You can email us for a full copy of the report.