What Mark Cuban’s Secret Shopper Experiment can Teach Us About Future Retail

Tell your 100-store fleet to do something and less than 25% will complete it on time. This isn’t just a guess: it’s a researched-backed fact. For decades, store execution has been the Achilles heel of retail.

We at Zipline were not surprised when Mark Cuban hired a secret team of shoppers as a third-party to evaluate how Dallas-based retailers were adhering to mandatory protocols.

The findings of the study were not comforting, however.

Cuban stated that “Ninety-six per cent of businesses were not compliant across all mandatory protocols, all locations.” Nearly one-third of those businesses were not compliant with mandatory protocols as set by the Governor’s Office. It seems that it isn’t enough to simply tell retailers that something’s “mandatory”. We knew this already. What else can Mark Cuban’s experiment teach us?

Similar story: Are You Thinking About Implementing A Compliance Checklist? Take a look at this first.

Scale is not necessary to be a competitive advantage

Cuban’s secret shoppers discovered that enterprise retailers were just like their smaller counterparts in noncompliance. These results are not surprising. These results are counterintuitive, of course. One study shows that only 21 percent companies actually measure compliance levels. While 28 percent assume that their tasks are being completed.

It is possible, however, that being part of a parent franchise could actually make it harder for a retail location to comply with the rules. Post-COVID-19 the majority of mandatory guidelines to open a business are specific to a particular location. Dallas’ standards are very different from those in New York City and San Francisco. A retail company that has to manage a multitude of different protocols to support a diverse range of stores across the country may not have advanced tracking and targeting capabilities. It could be doing its field team a disservice by trying to push for standardization. As retailers try to navigate this new normal, it can become difficult to track changes in the state, city and regional guidelines. Some companies may be better off depending on their store managers for guidance.

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Customers Satisfaction is a high-stakes proposition.

Customers had to deal with poor retail execution in the “old world” when customers were faced with confusing signage and poorly marketed goods. Most of the time, if a store did not follow HQ’s directions to a T, there were only minor consequences: a loss in customer loyalty, a low customer satisfaction score, and a missed chance for an upsell.

Cuban’s research revealed that there is much more at stake. He says, “I wanted to find out if these places are safe for my family.” Consumers now use a different filter when choosing where to shop or eat. Consumers don’t want convenience or choice in a world where going to the mall or eating at a restaurant can have serious health consequences. They just want to feel safe.

Everybody’s definition of safety is different. In many cases, an environment that is truly safe may not look any different from one that is unsafe. How do you know if a sales associate has washed their hands properly? How can you tell if a store associate has washed their hands in the dressing room? In an effort to make their customers feel safe, it’s possible that retailers will resort to security theatre tactics.

Retailers have always assumed that marketing was responsible for sales declines or foot traffic drops. (And this assumes that their campaigns were flawlessly executed across the fleet, which never really happened. These indicators may also be due to other factors, such as employees not wearing masks and properly social distancing. Maybe “perceived Safety” will be another performance indicator on the balance sheet. It could rank right up with units per transaction or conversion. To pull that lever, retailers need a way for their employees to clearly and concisely show what “safe” customer service means — and to hold them accountable.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/what-mark-cubans-secret-shopper-experiment-can-teach-us-about-the-future-of-retail/

Close the Gap: What Retailers Can Do to End Shoppers’ Frustration At Checkout

Fast. Easy. Secure. These are the words that consumers use to describe their perfect checkout experience. In reality, however, these expectations rarely come true.

Retailers may not use it as often as they think. Customers have complained that despite merchants making every effort to make checkout easy and smooth, the experience in-store is not always as good.

This is according to the latest research Emerging trends at the Point of Sale. Hanover Research sponsored the report by FreedomPay and Ingenico Group. To understand the differences between these two groups, the research examines merchant and consumer perceptions at point of sale. While consumers have some frustrations at checkout, the study revealed that retailers need to educate their customers about payment options.

These key findings will help retailers to address these issues and improve their checkout experience.

Similar story: What to Consider When Implementing a Curbside-POS System

Checkout Issues Create Negative Customer Experiences

The in-store technology is rapidly changing for the better. There are new payment options that can be tailored to suit the changing needs and preferences of fickle customers. Our survey found that many consumers still feel frustrated at the checkout. A majority of the shoppers who responded to our survey said they had experienced some sort of technical problem at checkout. This was most commonly due to a magnetic stripe or card chip malfunction. These problems can slow down checkout and cause frustration. This can lead to poor customer relations and could ultimately affect a customer’s decision to return to the shop.

These issues show a disconnect between retailers’ efforts to offer a frictionless shopping experience and shoppers’ reality. The good news is that contactless payment could be an option to bridge that gap. Contactless payments were used by 74 percent of those who tried them.

Awareness is the biggest barrier to contactless adoption

2020 should be the year that contactless payments become mainstream in the United States. According to our study, 84 percent of American businesses accept contactless payments. It won’t take long before that number reaches 100 percent. According to Juniper Research’s report, the global contactless payments market will triple to $6 trillion by 2024. While merchants continue to adopt contactless payments and customers report quicker checkout experiences, the Juniper Research study revealed a significant information gap. Only 37% of consumers were even aware that there are contactless payment options. This is rapidly changing with consumers opting to avoid touching payment terminals.

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Retailers should spend time educating customers about their payment options, particularly when it comes to contactless. Sometimes, the contactless symbol on the register is not enough. Consumers need to be able to find out where, how, and why they can use contactless payments. They also need assurance that they are safe. Retailers who take responsibility for educating and serving their customers will enjoy higher loyalty. Those who wait and watch could be left behind.

Rewards are important and more nuanced than we think

Strong retail businesses are built on customer loyalty. Our survey found that rewards programs are now more important than ever to increase customer loyalty and engagement. Customers expect to receive rewards for everything they buy, from groceries to clothes to gas and other necessities.

Consumers want to be able earn rewards quickly and easily, and to use them whenever and wherever they want. Consumers still face a few issues that can lead to negative experiences in loyalty and rewards. The most common issues are too many promotional emails, restricted spending options, and excessive amounts of email. Retailers can fix these problems by redesigning programs that reward customers who are the most important to their business.

Customers expect positive experiences from merchants and retailers. They can be flexible in their preferences for how they pay, what they are rewarded, how new products they discover in-store, and many other things. Consumers have all the power, thanks to their access to many products through multiple channels. It is crucial to understand the gaps between what you think your customers are getting in-store and what they actually experience. This will help you build a strategy around positive customer experiences and payments.

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Source: https://www.mytotalretail.com/article/closing-the-gap-how-retailers-can-put-an-end-to-shoppers-frustration-at-checkout/