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One in five retail workers say current tech hinders customer experience, report finds

Scandit’s second ‘Frontline Retail Revealed’ report examines how technology helps and hinders in-store experience for workers and customers.

Scandit, a leader in smart data capture, recently released the second installment of its research report, ‘Frontline Retail Revealed: Tech Pains and Gains.’ 

With store associates reporting more demanding customers post-pandemic, the research exposes key growth opportunities for retailers and establishes a critical link between technology, productivity and worker and customer experiences, and the impact this has on profitabilityespecially for an industry with tight margins. 

What store associates want from technology 

The report asked 2,000 global retail store associates about the attributes they’re looking for in scanning-related technology. And the results are clearrespondents value tools that help them tackle inefficient or time-consuming tasks over more hyped technologies like AI, particularly when interacting with customers and when a sale is at stake. 

[Read more: Generation next: Capturing millennial, Gen Z shoppers]

Key findings include:

  • When it comes to desired features for improving scanning features, half (50%) of respondents want features that enable scanning in challenging conditions, while 45% want faster scanning capabilities, especially in volume-intensive workflows like grocery stores (21% ranked it as their top priority) for tasks such as inventory management or price checks. 
  • Advanced capabilities like ID scanning (51%) and multi-barcode scanning (48%) are more desired than newer technologies like AI (35%). This suggests store associates value practical tools that reduce manual data entry and tedious tasks, especially given the number and frequency of items that need scanning. 
  • Across all daily tasks, technology is seen as most helpful for shelf management (84%), customer service (83%) and order picking for online orders (81%). 

Strong customer service is at the heart of retail loyalty, powered by knowledgeable store associates. Yet, technology designed for customer interactions might be hindering, not helping, these crucial interactions, causing retailers to miss out on potential sales. The research revealed that:   

  • Store associates struggle to provide a smooth customer experience, due to limitations in their current technology. The biggest issue lies in access to useful data, seen in the top three frustrations: having to leave the customer waiting to check information (68%), the inability to answer questions effectively (48%), and not having an easy way to access relevant, up-to-date information (35%). 
  • While 17% of store associates reported their devices have no impact on the customer experience, nearly a quarter (22%) say these devices actually hinder their ability to deliver better service, indicating a need for improvement. 
  • 76% of store associates agree that their device plays a part in reducing manual tasks, freeing them up to spend more time with customers. However, retailers may be driving customers away by providing a poor experience due to inadequate technology. 

[Read more: Forecasting the future]

“It’s clear that store associates are struggling to deliver exceptional shopping experiences for customers, and our report shows that this often stems from the limitations with the current technology available to them, ” said Christian Floerkemeier, CTO and co-founder of Scandit. “Smart data capture can play a critical role in alleviating workflow frustrations and enhancing daily tasks, which will improve worker productivity, access to insights and be a key driver of future profitability. Our research will help retailers dive deeper into the specific technology desires of their employees to strategically implement solutions that will empower their frontline workforce and ultimately improve the customer experience.” 

The latest report builds on previous research by Scandit, which revealed store associates’ perspectives on the factors influencing workplace loyalty, retention and technology investment, including the potential impacts of AI. 

Read the first part of the report here.  

Read the full report here.

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