The human touch delivered by store staff is playing an increasingly important role in crafting customer experience in-store for shoppers, according to new research from the Retail Technology Show.
Original research of over 1,000 UK consumers by the Retail Technology Show revealed that 53 per cent of shoppers felt store staff either ‘make or break’ the shopping experience, rising by +13 percentage points year-on-year. Almost two-fifths (37 per cent) say they are now more respectful of retail staff since before the start of the pandemic, rising +3 percentage points since 2022.
Over a third, (34 per cent) of those shoppers polled thought retailers could do more to look after their workforces in the current economic climate, while a further quarter (25 per cent) said retail staff should be paid more by their employers to help them with the rising cost-of-living.
The Centre for Retail Research estimates that almost 15,000 retail jobs have been lost since the start of the year, as retailers grapple with inflationary pressures impacting manufacturing, supply chains and labour costs. However, in spite of these rising cost bases, many retailers are choosing to invest in recruiting and retaining talent, and are putting measures in place to help store associates in light of the rising cost of living, recognising the role they play in the delivery of customer service and experience.
Pandora, for example, became the latest retailer to increase store staff pay, with a 14 per cent rise announced earlier this month, the third time it had improved pay in the last 12 months. This move followed pay rise announcements in April for Holland & Barrett store associates of 9 per cent and Primark’s in-store teams who also received a 12 per cent boost. As retailers face a growing labour shortage, Aldi also gave store employees their third pay rise in a year, with the German discounter now leading UK supermarkets in the wage stakes, according to BBC research.
And, increasingly efforts by retailers to look after and support their staff is influencing customer loyalty, with a fifth (17 per cent) of UK consumers polled by the Retail Technology Show saying that how a retailer or brand supports, pays or looks after its staff impacts their decision to buy from them. Meanwhile, a further 18 per cent said they would question their loyalty to a brand or retailer if the business wasn’t supporting its employees.
Matt Bradley, Event Director for the Retail Technology Show, commented: “Retail is – and always has been – a people business. Both retailers and their customers continue to recognise the central role retail staff play in creating those key moments in in-store shopping journeys that keep bricks-and-mortar relevant, immersive and brand-rich. And while the need for technology that blends in-store and online customer experience is also growing, the human touch sits at the heart of successfully and seamlessly blending the two channels within the store.”