Why two-thirds of customers trust retail colleagues over tech

Article by Olivia Robinson | 25th February 2021

Over the last two years, retail in the UK and USA has taken a series of punishing knocks. But retail has proven to be an industry with a high degree of ingenuity. The BRC’s latest report on innovation shows how quickly stores such as Waitrose, Walmart and Majestic Wines developed membership schemes, links with delivery partners and safer technology to shield customers and colleagues.

Because of this adaptability and a focus on customer safety across the UK and US, our data suggests that consumer confidence in retail remains high. 

Download the full report here:

Well over half of the shoppers we spoke to said they hadn’t lost any confidence in physical retail since the beginning of the pandemic. 

  • 52% said their appreciation for colleagues working in retail had actually increased as a result of the impact of COVID-19. 

Frontline workers are viewed differently in 2021, as a mark of respect for the hard work and frontline risk associated with their roles. 

Long term, we prefer to shop in person

Another interesting trend revealed by our latest research shows the majority of consumers still prefer to shop in stores. 

  • Only a third of shoppers across the UK and US anticipated their shopping habits changing in the long-term, as a result of the pandemic. 
  • This means that two-thirds of us would prefer to go back to ‘normal.’

Although we’re eager to pick up old habits of retail therapy, some behaviours have changed since 2019. There’s been a distinctive move towards BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store) or Click & Collect, as it’s called in the UK. 

One-fifth of customers said they would shop more using touch-free payment methods and would prefer to collect orders purchased online. There’s been a shift away from shopping at distant retail stores, too. 

  • 17% of the consumers we talked to said they preferred to shop with local retailers since the pandemic began.

Download our full report, ‘The Impatient Nation’, here:

Shoppers value in-store colleagues more than ever

A positive, if the unexpected outcome of the pandemic has been a marked increase in the value we place on our in-store colleagues. 

  • Only 6% of consumers felt that retail colleagues didn’t improve their shopping experience. 

Over half said they felt retail colleagues improved their in-store experience, with one in five strongly agreeing that colleagues made the difference for their shopping trips every time. 

The customers we spoke to were confident that colleagues could answer any questions they had, which for them was an important part of why they chose to shop in-store.

Customers increasingly prefer a mix of human and automated interactions

There’s no doubt that confidence in retail colleagues remains high. But interestingly, customers prefer a mixture of human and automated interactions when they go shopping. 

  • More than half of UK and US consumers prefer a mix of interacting with in-store colleagues and fully automated experiences, such as self-checkout tills
  • UK shoppers tended to favour colleague-only experiences more (preferred by 20% of shoppers) in comparison to 15% of US shoppers
  • Similarly, 20% of US shoppers preferred a fully automated experience, compared with 17% of UK consumers.

Download the full report here:

We’ve seen our colleagues and customers battle huge challenges over the past year, and with hard work and adaptability, retail has weathered the storm better than many predicted. 

At VoCoVO, we care deeply about our customers and their colleagues. Get in touch with us today to find out more about safe, distanced communications technology to support your in-store experience. Contact us:

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