Study: Self-service tech helps boost consumer loyalty

| by Missy Baxter
Study: Self-service tech helps boost consumer loyalty

Building brand loyalty in retail is even more important as today's consumers cope with tighter budgets, busier lifestyles and, in many cases, shorter attention spans.

Technology such as kiosks, smart phones and social media tools can dramatically boost brand loyalty when used properly. But that begs a big question: Which devices and communication channels work best to entice consumers and keep them coming back for more?

According to a recent study on consumer behavior by New York-based BuzzBack Market Research, a large majority of North American shoppers prefer retailers that enable them to shop consistently across multiple channels using devices such as kiosks, smart phones and social media tools. More than 80 percent of consumers surveyed said they want more control over where, when and how they interact with retailers — whether through Facebook accounts, iPhones or in-store kiosks.

"Consumers are time-starved, value-driven, digitally-enabled and frustrated by inconsistent shopping experiences across channels," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager of retail and hospitality business for NCR Corp., which commissioned the study. "Retailers must deliver more personalized, unified interactions whether their customers are on the Web, in the store or using their mobile device. For retailers to respond to this new era of converged retailing, they require solutions that bring these channels together."

The study focused on how consumers use self-service, social media and other technology to shop, along with the best ways for retailers to effectively tap into those channels. It concluded that consumer loyalty is driven by how shoppers use technology and their desire for retailers to offer a more consistent and seamless shopping experience. In addition to the value of a consistent experience across channels, the research also explored the value that consumers place on personalization, including language, payment method, brand preference and receipt type. Almost half of respondents agreed that retail shopping or restaurant ordering would be faster if they had a personalized experience.


Highlights of the study included some notable findings:

  • North American consumers are hunting for bargains and are less loyal to retailers. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they often switch between retailers to get price discounts and more loyalty points.
  • Consumers are increasingly using technology when searching for the best deals. Sixty-six percent indicated they use the Internet more frequently to research products and prices before buying.
  • Shoppers want to receive personalized offers and information that matches their individual preferences. Eighty-one percent of North American consumers would like companies to integrate social media channels into their mix of communications.
  • As smart phone penetration increases, more than 40 percent of consumers want to use mobile devices to locate retailers, download coupons and scan barcodes.

Results of the study were announced in May during the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2010 showcase in Las Vegas. (To download a free white paper on the study, clickhere.)

With research showing a clear consumer presence for retailers who provide a consistent, personalized experience for shoppers across channels, forward-looking companies are now implementing software, linked to enterprise applications like customer data and analytics, to deliver timely and relevant communications across multiple points of service, based on their customers' preferences and location.

For example, NCR recently rolled out a new self-service loyalty and offer management solution that helps retailers easily extend the reach of frequent shopper programs across channels, such as inside the store, online or via mobile devices. The NCR Netkey Loyalty Kiosk, which is part of the company's new converged retailing — or c-tailing — solution, enables consumers to manage their frequent shopper program, access personalized offers and informational material, print out promotional materials directly at the kiosk, transfer coupons to their loyalty card or have offers sent directly to their mobile device.

"A new generation of consumers craves more personalization and control over when and how they interact with retailers," said Dusty Lutz, general manager of NCR Netkey digital signage and kiosk applications. "Consumers are willing to reward retailers that enable a seamless, converged channel experience across Web, store or mobile channels. Retailers are responding by evaluating technology solutions that help them interact with shoppers based on their individual preferences and location to create a more compelling shopping experience."

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