Sep 10, 2021
In this episode of COMMERCE NOW, Anja Popp and Bill Inzeo help you get to know your shopper types and offer the right customer journey.
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Jerry: Hello everyone and thanks for listening in. I would like to welcome today's guest Bill Inzeo Product and Solutions Global Strategy for Zebra Technologies. Welcome Bill. Thanks for joining me today.
Bill Inzeo: Thank you for having me.
Jerry: And we're also fortunate to [00:00:30] have Anja Popp with us. Anya is our senior analyst in Market Intelligence here at Diebold Nixdorf. Thank you Anya for joining us.
Anja Popp: Thank you, Jerry. It's my pleasure to be here.
Jerry: So let's get started. Retail in the shopping experience has changed tremendously during today's challenging environments. Some changes were brought on by technological advances with the now common mobile devices. Other changes were forced by a global pandemic as consumers rethink their own shopping needs. Regardless of the reason we've experienced accelerated changes to [00:01:00] the consumer and staff journeys that retailers need to contend with. Let's start with the technology portion. Are shoppers drawn to certain technologies that a retailer provides? Bill, what's your take?
Bill Inzeo: Yeah, I think that's absolutely the case. Technologies that can provide really any level of convenience to the customers can be a draw and look no further than the checkout experience in retail in particular. There's customers that are going to select a retailer or certain retailers, not only for the types of products that they sell, but also for the [00:01:30] way in which they can actually conduct their shopping trip, especially in a post-pandemic environment where options like self-checkout are going to appeal to a subset of customers in a way that looks different today than it did in 2019, because there's a whole personal safety aspect and element to that decision-making.
Jerry: Interesting. Anja, what are your thoughts on it?
Anja Popp: Yeah, that's a great question, Jerry. And thanks for the insight from Bill as well. I would say yes, shoppers are drawn to certain technologies. At least if retailers manage to build an experience [00:02:00] that corresponds with each shopper's core motivation behind adopting a solution. So maybe if I may add a little color to my response, so we were specifically digging into technology adoption in the grocery segment. We had 15,000 grocery shopper voices from 15 countries in there. And based on all these data points, we were working with Nielson as our research partner to conduct a segmentation analysis. And that analysis actually returned five core motivations that influence [00:02:30] shopper interest in retail technology. And that would be ease. So really ease of use, simplicity.
The self-sufficiency part. So some shoppers really have a core motivation to be very self-determined in their shopper journey. It's the information part or the information motivation, and both self-sufficiency and information are actually also have a strong correlation to efficiency by the way. There's trust, as the fourth motivator. And then there's new and exciting experiences. [00:03:00] There's also one strong obstacle that I see that retailers need to overcome for technology adoption. And that is simply long-standing habits. That always has to be put into the equation as well.
Jerry: Those are great insights. It's always interesting to see the march of technological advances and how it affects consumers and retailers alike. What about force changes now? COVID forced all consumers to rethink their needs, journeys, and what their expectations are. What's been impacted the most from this? Anja, what interesting findings [00:03:30] did we find with the Diebold Nixdorf/Nielsen survey learned from consumers? Did we see a change when we surveyed before COVID versus a year later?
Anja Popp: I would say yes, absolutely. First of all, it seems that many retailers saw the sign of the times and they leveraged technology to provide a response to the challenges that were raised by the pandemic and consumers noticed that. So when we asked grocery shoppers about their experiences during the pandemic, the perception that retailers have promoted new technology based ways [00:04:00] to shop that protect people, like for example, self-checkout concepts, those usually ranked within the top three responses about these experiences that shoppers were making during the pandemic. Self-checkout, by the way, that was definitely a winning solution across the pandemic.
So we saw double digit shares of respondents that have turned to self-checkout for the first time during the COVID pandemic, even in countries where the technology is already established for quite a while. So maybe I can [00:04:30] use the US as an example here. So we saw well over 20% of our respondents stating that they started using self-checkouts since the pandemic, and that's bringing total adoption in the US up to over 80% actually. The core reason for that remaining small group of non-users was actually that they are simply used to the staff checkout. So you remember, I stated in my first response to you that longstanding habits are a motivation that retailers always have to put into the equation for designing successful [00:05:00] roll-outs.
Jerry: I really love this data and I get to see it happen all the time. My wife can't stand self-checkout, but during the pandemic I think she followed your data. She went to it because of those concerns and she changed her behavior based on that. It was something she didn't do before and afterwards she tends to do more often. We learn more and more every time we ask the consumer direct questions. I love it. Bill, what are you seeing today?
Bill Inzeo: What Anja and I have been seeing [00:05:30] is very similar. When we're talking to our customers at Zebra and hearing from them, the challenges that they're helping their customers with, we continue to confirm, I think what everybody's keenly aware of, which is that the pandemic has been an accelerator of nearly all aspects of our lives generally. And that includes the tech savviness of the customers and the shift in how they are interacting with the retailers and how they're shopping. And that shifts in business to online shopping. And then beyond just the shift [00:06:00] to online shopping to the in-store or curbside pickup modalities, really out of necessity for our personal safety was the equivalent of a once in a lifetime accelerant. Well, we hope once in a lifetime.
And I think the motivation behind ensuring our own personal safety and the pathway to that being technology has changed not just how the customers think about how to leverage technology, but it's also putting the retailers in a position where they're starting to reconsider how they're going to leverage technology in the new normal, [00:06:30] and then help their customers along the way. And that additional layer of options for those customers, both to shop online and then pick up in the store in several different ways has created a new complexity for the retailers at their operation that they're still really wrestling with right now. And technology is going to be one of the many and probably the leading solution to that new complexity.
Jerry: Yeah, totally agree. There's no doubt the benefit technology brings to the shopping experience and store operations. However, and this is personal to me, [00:07:00] I'm a big believer in focusing on adoption rather than just implementation. You want consumers to prefer this new method. And that means taking it beyond just installation and technically working. How should retailers adjust their thinking to achieve success? Bill, as one of the leading technology providers what insights can you share from your experiences?
Bill Inzeo: Well, I can tell you that at the end of the day, it's all about value. It always is, and it'll always be about the value of the technology to the customer. [00:07:30] As we've been discussing, we've seen a level of technology adoption sooner than we would have had we not had this global pandemic occur. And that adoption level that we've seen in the shift that we're monitoring, and we're starting to see continue to show up in our customers, is likely to maintain and if not continue to expand. So from there, it's really just a matter of building on that new adoption. So the building blocks will be comprised of value components. And Anja talked to some of these, convenience, [00:08:00] personal safety, which has a completely new definition to customers. The financial value, so how can the technology bring savings to the customers? And the ease of use. If it feels like unnecessary bells and whistles, it may feel too incremental to ensure adoption. So they need to make sure that it's purpose-built and very intentful in what the technology is there to help with.
Jerry: Very true. That's a better way to take it. And the retailers really need to pay attention to those kinds [00:08:30] of tasks and insights. Anja, a question for you. Should a retailer focus on a particular type of consumer and their preferences? If so, who could that be?
Anja Popp: Yeah, thanks for the great question, Jerry, but actually to be very honest, I mean, the who is certainly a question for each retailer's marketing or strategy department. And we see so many retailers doing a great job here, for example, with stronger diversification of store format and such things like really responding to the target [00:09:00] groups that are most important to them. But based on our findings, I will definitely recommend to retailers to consider the motivation before they design a shopper journey. And Bill mentioned that just in the answer that he provided. So ease of use, let me pick up on that because it's been one of the motivations, or one of the values as Bill calls it, that Bill mentioned. And I think it's a great example. Ease was actually the one motivator that I'd recommend as the starting point of any journey design. So it's important to understand that shoppers whose [00:09:30] primary trigger is ease, are not interested in innovation or technology per se.
And this is one of the largest segments we found based on our survey. So what they want is actually a solution in a specific moment of need. They are turning to self-checkout specifically when they are facing a long queue at the staff checkout. And when we asked those of them who had already turned to mobile journeys, for example, about the device preference, whether they prefer smartphones or retailer [00:10:00] owned devices, for example, it's really the feeling of comfort that influences that choice. So one half of them actually prefer the smartphone because they felt familiar with the technology, and the other half stated that they did not want to be bothered with downloading and installing another app. So you see, in that case, it's really highly important to think about ease in the sense of simplicity, comfort, and problem resolution. So retailers should also factor in store associates as evangelists to such journey designs [00:10:30] because they can create tremendous value in creating that required level of comfort.
Jerry: That is really important. Staff needs to be involved and they need to be a proponent of these new journeys, so consumers feel comfortable to try them and that they will be supported. It's critical. Too many times, I feel self-service in air quotes is the total lack of staff. And that's not necessarily the case until the consumers are trained properly and are comfortable with [00:11:00] your technology and your journey that you're providing.
We've had a super computer in our pocket for over 15 years. It's changed a lot of our behaviors and expectations. How is it altering the retail shopping journeys? Anja, you mentioned some of the mobile journeys. Does the data show a mad dash to mobile usage or a mixed bag of who wants what and when?
Anja Popp: That's an interesting one, Jerry. So when we just look at the big picture, I think it is really fair to say that [00:11:30] mobile has become something like a core expectation to consumers. And I hope, I guess that Bill would agree to that. But when we asked independently for the connection to a retailer's mobile solution, it's not uncommon that 50% or 60% of shoppers tell us they are using a mobile device in store, at least from time to time. But quite often, I mean, that's about when they're checking a price point or when they have made some notes on their smartphone actually for their shopping list or topics like [00:12:00] this. It's really getting more nuanced when we look deeper into the data, like which device is preferred? What is the adoption level of specific solutions that retailers could provide? And I felt there was one very interesting aspect.
And you might remember that I mentioned information as a motivation to adopt technology for a specific segment. And we found that this motivator very often goes hand in hand with a high savviness for mobile technology. So things like checking product availability ahead of a store visit. [00:12:30] Checking on product information, like the source of origin. All these topics resonated very strongly with that information driven segment. So when you consider such preferences and maybe you add in that context that mega-trend of sustainability to the equation, that more and more retailers actually have to react to, I feel that inflammation can become one really interesting playground in retail.
Jerry: Oh, most definitely. Bill, you are deeply into mobility for retailers, staff, and consumers. [00:13:00] What's your take?
Bill Inzeo: Jerry. If we reflect, mobile has I think it's not even arguably it's confirmed, it's already changed retail fundamentally. It used to be that a mobile first approach, if I do mobile first in air quotes, that was an aspirational strategy that retailers were driving toward on their innovation technology roadmaps. The reality is mobile is foundational now. As Anja mentioned, it's core. And so the retailers are using mobile devices to conduct almost all components [00:13:30] of their daily operation, inventory management, pricing and promotions, customer interactions, checkout. Mobile is definitely here and here to stay in my view. And I think we're going to see increased focus and adoption around customer mobility and how that can be leveraged to deliver to the customers those value-add experiences that encourage the adoption that we've been discussing earlier. Inclusive of convenience, inclusive of personal savings, and a personalized interaction with the retailer that they're shopping, whether they're [00:14:00] shopping virtually, or if they're shopping in real life.
Jerry: Let's follow that up and go a little further. This is what's happening today, and even in our accelerated pandemic world. What do you think it will do to disrupt the future of the retail industry? Anja?
Anja Popp: Actually, I think the good news, at least for brick and mortar retail, is that to consumers mobile seems to be more of an enhancement to the in-store experience. So at least in grocery, the majority of consumers tells us that the physical [00:14:30] store remains their primary channel, but yet we see retailers becoming more data-driven. We see shoppers demanding support in their individual moments of need. So I see mobile as really the glue in between to that. So it's really providing shoppers the specific information that they're looking for in the moment that they need it. Now, whether it may be a price information, whether it might be a product information, whether it's the loyalty coupon that they want to collect, that is so much more convenient [00:15:00] than actually carrying these paper-based topics with them and so on and so forth. So this is really where I see the role of mobile in a more and more data-driven world.
Jerry: Bill, your thoughts on both consumer and staff using them?
Bill Inzeo: I'll say that, I think as we mentioned earlier, mobile has already had one round of disruption in retail and certainly more to come. And I think what comes next is likely to be rooted in two things. So for the customers, how can the retailers remove as much friction as possible [00:15:30] from the shopping experience, leveraging mobile technology, but still maintaining a core shopping experience that has become the expectation of those customers, both in store and online? So how do you augment without taking something from them that is valuable to them? And then for the retailers, how can they build on the mobile foundation that they now have in place?
As we mentioned, mobile is now a core fundamental components of retail. So how do we build on that mobile foundation that they have in place to drive more efficiencies into [00:16:00] their operations so they can unlock that labor that they're currently spending on what you can argue are low value tasks and reallocate that labor and time to higher value tasks like customer interactions? And really that's I think that the two prongs that are going to really drive the next level of disruption and adoption with mobile.
Jerry: All great insights, thanks to you Anja and Bill. I think that's a great place to close. Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on the ramifications technology has [00:16:30] on consumers and the retailers that we serve. To say the least it will be interesting to watch expectations change in the coming years. And thanks to you, our listeners, for tuning in to this episode of Commerce Now. Download a free copy of the white paper we have done with Diebold Nixdorf and Zebra on mobility. You'll find the link in the show notes.