Gap remains between digital and in-store experience

SOTI’s global retail report finds Canadians continue to experience a disconnect between their shopping expectations and the in-store reality.
Tom Venetis
Associate Editor, Convenience Store News Canada + OCTANE
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A large gap remains when it comes to online shopping and what shoppers experience inside a store.

That is the finding of the most recent SOTI global retail report Techspectations: Consumer Demand for Digital Transformation in Retail. The report was based on research conducted between September 3 and September 14, 2023, using 11,000 self-completed interviews from nine markets around the world. All interviewees were consumers aged 18 to 65. The markets included not just Canada and the United States, but Mexico, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, giving a global picture of consumer’s experiences between the digital and in-store experience. 

According to SOTI’s study, retailers are grappling with the heightened expectations of consumers anticipating seamless in-store interactions, personalized recommendations and instant access to inventory online and in-store to ensure their continued loyalty. 

While today’s shoppers want to see technology improve their in-store shopping experience, many retailers fail in providing that experience with some ​​91% of global consumers believe in-store technologies and devices made their shopping experience worse. For example, SOTI finds that the most dissatisfying device were in-store tablets for completing order forms. Only one-third stated they have improved the shopping experience and one-fifth believe they have had a negative effect.

The report adds: “Consumers also stated that Wi-Fi was not strong enough in-store for the application to work properly. More than one-third (34%) of global consumers have experienced this significant downfall, and in Canada the number reaches 50%. It is troubling to think that businesses are trying to integrate AI-based automated devices without proper functioning Wi-Fi and Internet connections to operate them.”

READ: C-Store IQ: Technology Report

Consumers cite challenges in-store such as a lack of staff to assist with issues relating to self-serve machines (51% of users). 

The global report reveals that ​​45% of consumers expect to be able to pick up an item ordered online from a physical store on the same day.

“It is crucial to recognize that AI plays a significant role in harnessing deeper intelligence from devices,” says Shash Anand, SVP of product strategy at SOTI in a release accompanying the study’s announcement. “AI-driven diagnostic intelligence and proactive support solutions empower retailers to identify and resolve issues before they impact the consumer experience. By integrating location, signal strength and speed data with critical business information, such as inventory levels and delivery status, AI can ensure that in-store hyper-personalization can replicate the seamlessness consumers expect from online shopping.”

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