Survey: Canadian retailers working to create unforgettable customer experiences

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Survey: Canadian retailers working to create unforgettable customer experiences

By Antoinette Alexander - 05/29/2018
In today's competitive Canadian retail landscape, wowing customers is more critical than ever. Mirroring many of the initiatives currently underway here in the United States, a recent American Express survey found that Canadian retailers are focusing on improving the in-store experience while investing in new technologies to provide seamless shopping experiences.

"It's not good enough to be good anymore; retailers need to be unforgettable," said Kerri-Ann Santaguida, vice president and general manager, Merchant Services, American Express Canada. "With emerging technologies poised to disrupt the industry, the stakes have never been so high. Businesses can't afford to ignore these trends as they have the potential to completely transform the customer experience and grow market share if executed well."

According to the sixth annual Canadian Retail Insights Report released Tuesday by American Express Canada, 87 percent of retailers agree their customers are getting more selective about where they shop.

According to the survey, 97 percent of retailers agree that improving the in-store experience is important and 69 percent agree investing in new technology is integral to driving business success. In fact, more than half (58 percent) of retailers surveyed said they plan to make more updates to the in-store experience this year. When it comes to enhancing in-store shopping, forward-looking retailers have their eyes on emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the customer experience.

The data revealed 29 percent of retailers are interested in investing in new technologies like automation or data personalization and 14 percent are looking to artificial intelligence or augmented reality to provide a better in-store experience.

Retailers also are leveraging new automated payment technologies to improve checkout and provide seamless payments options at every touch point in a customer journey that can extend from social media to in-app to in-store.

In fact, 82 percent of retailers surveyed that adopted new payments practices in the past 12 months said they did so to meet customer expectations. What's more, it showed forward-looking retailers are interested in investing in emerging technologies like data personalization and artificial intelligence to provide a better in-store experience.

Additional findings include:

Sales growth tied to customer experience

  • Nine-out-of-10 retailers surveyed have a positive business outlook for the year ahead.

  • 52 percent said their sales have increased over the last year and, of those, 72 percent attribute the growth to a focus on delivering better customer experiences – beating out new products and improved product quality.

Physical-digital mindset meets customer needs

  • 53 percent of retailers, excluding the gas industry, currently offering online shopping, reservations or ordering said it has increased sales and revenue.

  • To integrate online and offline experience, 45 percent of retailers surveyed said they're making investments in online fulfillment solutions like "buy online, pick up in store," email and text marketing (42 percent), payments technology (38 percent) and mobile apps (38 percent).

Emerging technologies improve the in-store experience

  • 97 percent of retailers think improving the in-store experience is important and 69 percent said that investing in new technologies this year is important to the success of their business.

  • 29 percent of retailers will consider using automation or data personalization to improve the experience in-store, and 14 percent are interested in implementing artificial intelligence or augmented reality.

Growth in automated payments adoption in the quick service industry

  • 48 percent of retailers in the quick service industry introduced new payments technology in the last year, compared with only 28 percent in 2017.

  • Key types of payments technologies adopted by retailers this year includes mobile wallet (66 percent), in-app payments (49 percent), tablet POS (45 percent) and web portal payments (28 percent).

This survey was conducted within Canada by The Nielsen Co., on behalf of American Express from March 27 to April 20, 2018, among 375 Canadian grocery stores, general retailers, gas stations, restaurants and fast food restaurants.

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