To understand how tech-savvy, brick and mortar retail and restaurant chains are transforming experiences and expectations for today’s consumers, we surveyed over a thousand people across the U.S. The resulting study, “The Digital-Forward Customer Experience: New Expectations and Obstacles for Today’s Storefront”, was released today.
Technology is becoming an increasingly integral part of shopping and dining experiences for Americans, causing consumer expectations to be redefined by a new generation of “digital-forward” brick and mortar stores and restaurants — such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Shake Shack, Chipotle, and others. These pioneers are shaping a new, technology-driven set of expectations and demands for consumers that is affecting how all businesses attract and retain customer loyalty.
Our research found that many consumers now consider the digital-forward customer experience to be a critical part of a “good customer experience,” rivaling the personal attention from staff and loyalty programs that have traditionally promoted repeat business. In turn, nearly half of consumers say that stores and restaurants with highly reliable, technology-driven customer experiences will earn more of their business. While larger, national brands boost consumer expectations, smaller stores and restaurants are feeling the pressure to transform their own customer experiences. According to the report, consumers who frequent large chain establishments over smaller businesses name technology as one of the key aspects of a good, in-store experience — highlighting factors like a range of digital payment and self checkout options, online ordering and local pick up capabilities, and other digital offerings like in-store WiFi and real-time order information.
The successes and failures of technology-driven experiences have larger effects on consumer opinion than we realized, and these outcomes are measurable and instantaneous. Depending on the encounter, investment in technology-driven customer experiences can simultaneously provide businesses with the opportunity to please customers and foster brand loyalty, as well as with the potential to ruin customer relationships if the promise falls short. Retail stores and restaurants should acknowledge that customers’ expectations and demands have grown to include an intuitive, technology-driven experience. Thanks to the precedent set by today’s digital-forward leaders, businesses large and small can now learn from these strategies and, with the right technology, deliver a better experience to their customers.