New study: Long lines cost US retailers $37.7 billion

Why experience (not price) is key to keeping American shoppers happy.

Prices and products are no longer enough to cement buying decisions. Instead, American consumers place higher value on – and demand more from –  the shopping experience.

That’s one of the main insights in a recent survey that took into account the opinions and spending habits of more than 1,000 American shoppers. The survey, conducted by 451 Research and commissioned by Adyen, also included 250 business-to-consumer retailers operating in the US.

The survey identified two distinct groups. Meet the Spendsetters and the Resisters.

Retailers should cater to a key group

Spendsetters, who embrace technology, are setting the trends for how people want to spend and shop. Spendsetters tend to be younger (52% are Millennials), and they’re also brand loyalists. In the study, they were much more likely than Resisters to report that they loved to shop.

Resisters, on the other hand, are older (40% are Baby Boomers) and generally technology-averse. Only 3 in 5 Resisters owns a smartphone, and fewer than 2 in 5 own a tablet.

An infographic shows two important shopping groups for retailers.

For Spendsetters, context and control are critical, and shopping with a smartphone is a given. Two thirds of the Spendsetter crowd said they want to receive personalized information (e.g., local offers, mall promotions, or push notifications) based on their immediate location. Fifty-nine percent of Spendsetters said they want to use a store-branded app to pay in-store, for example by scanning a barcode at checkout. The vast majority of Spendsetters (75%) said a “just walk out” payment experience, a la the Amazon Go store, would encourage them to shop more in-store.

Make buying less trying: reduce long lines

For everyone in the survey, the shopping experience was king. Researchers found that today’s consumers have three main demands: convenience, context, and control. Long lines in stores were one of the biggest and most blatant barriers to a convenient shopping experience. Among consumers who don’t prefer shopping in-store, 55% said it was because they don’t like waiting in line. Nearly half (48%) said anything more than a five-minute wait is too long.

Notably, retailers haven’t gotten this message. According to the study, long lines in stores cost retailers a whopping $37.7 billion in sales each year. Shoppers said they either bought the item elsewhere or abandoned the purchase altogether.

Offer more ways for shoppers to pay

They found other aspects of the shopping experience lacking as well. Nineteen percent of those surveyed said they had encountered a merchant that did not accept their preferred payment method in the past year, and of those, 55% spent less or went elsewhere as a result. For retailers, that added up to $1.1billion in potential lost sales.

Don’t risk disappointing your customers with a poor shopping experience. Learn more about their motivations, habits, and preferences in our full report.

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