Amid the online shopping boom, shopper dissatisfaction loomed. Expectation gaps also need addressing, according to the study.

In an annual study of global shopper trends, 2020 caused notable changes which have been quantified for strategic consideration.

Since last year, more shoppers have expected a seamless experience between stores and online, and are increasingly placing orders online because of desired product availability, resulting in a nearly 60% placing an order in the last three months.

With more than one-fifth of shoppers returning an item purchased online, 57% of store associates are feeling significantly challenged by these returns. Out-of-stock situations also remained a challenge and 41% of shoppers surveyed said this was the top reason for leaving stores without a purchase. This was followed by long checkout lines (32%) and an inability to find items (31%) both representing a marked increase from last year.

More findings

The study by Zebra Technologies Corporation included approximately 4,175 shoppers, 577 retail associates and 412 retail executives from North America, Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region (APAC), Europe and the Middle East, all interviewed in August to September 2020.

Some of the regional findings include:


Europe and the Middle East

  • 83% of respondents who were decision-makers said the pandemic accelerated their implementation plans for mobile devices and solutions, the highest score of any region.
  • 76% of respondents preferred to shop at online retailers that also have brick-and-mortar locations.

Latin America

  • 87% of shoppers ‘agreed’ to prompting that “the use of technology helps provide a safe, comfortable, and convenient experience” the highest score of any region.
  • Almost 90% of respondents had used mobile ordering and intended to continue using it.

North America

  • 72% of store associates among respondents preferred to have prescribed tasks rather than reading reports to help them manage their day.
  • 77% decision-makers among the respondents reported feeling pressure to improve fulfillment operations and efficiency so they could offer a variety of delivery options and speeds.

Other trends discerned from the data include:

  • Growth in mobile ordering
    Mobile ordering (from smartphones and tablets) experienced tremendous growth in the survey: 72% of respondents used mobile ordering and 82% of those shoppers were highly likely to continue using it.

    Millennials (88%) and Gen X (79%) shoppers in the survey were the primary users of mobile ordering but nearly half of Boomers (47%) used it too, and 74% of them were likely to continue using it in the future. Some 64% of respondents believed more retailers need to offer mobile ordering. Also, 90% of decision makers and 83% of store associates surveyed ‘agreed’ to prompts that mobile ordering would help meet customer expectations.
  • Smart-checkout leads to better experience
    Approximately half (47%) of surveyed shoppers have interacted with self-checkouts in the last six months and more than six-in-10 (63%) shoppers agree self-checkout solutions provide an improved customer experience. While agreement is highest among Millennials at 73%, 66% of Gen X shoppers and 50% of Boomers have also realized an improved customer experience from self-checkout solutions in the last year. Meanwhile, 86% of retail decision-makers and 71% of store associates agree self-checkouts improve the customer experience. Almost nine-in-10 decision-makers and more than seven-in-10 associates believe self-checkouts freed employees up to do higher priority tasks and better serve customers while helping meet health and safety mandates and protocols.
  • Safety now part of in-store experiences
    Currently, there is a sizable trust gap between retail decision-makers, shoppers and associates when it comes to health and safety. While approximately 90% of decision-makers in the survey think shoppers and associates trust them to make health and safety a priority, only 65% of shoppers and 77% of associates survey agreed. Some 67% of respondents were concerned with surface sanitation or social exposure in stores, and 59% preferred stores with contactless payment options. About 70% indicated that social distancing/contact tracing apps would allow them to provide a better customer experience.

According to the firm’s Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Fang-How Lim: “Issues such as out-of-stocks, lack of product variety, online delivery cost and timing and returns have contributed to the significant decline in in-store and online satisfaction of shoppers in 2020. Retailers in South-east Asia are aware that success relies on improving the shopper experience. In order to provide a more seamless and satisfying omnichannel experience, these retailers (can) invest in analytics, mobile ordering, smart checkout, and other retail technology solutions that can enhance efficiency and accuracy.”