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Today’s shopper is a demanding creature. They want what they want, when and where they want it, and they have a low tolerance level for retailers who cannot deliver on their expectations.

If every consumer wanted the same thing from their shopping experiences, this would still be a big challenge for retail organisations, but they don’t. The explosion in channels and touchpoints has created multiple, complex journeys to purchase, which require retailers to be relevant in hundreds of different ways, at thousands of moments in time. It can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task.

But before we become too overwhelmed by the scope of consumer demands, let’s focus on the positives. There are many retailers out there who are already delivering on their customers’ expectations; that is why they have a loyal fan base. And the secret to their success is that they ‘pick their battles’, and focus on getting right the things that matter most to their audience.

So, what is it that shoppers feel makes or breaks their retail encounters? And how can retailers prioritise change to deliver greater satisfaction in these areas? Rather than trying to presuppose the voice of the consumer, SAP went directly to them, surveying 1,000 UK shoppers on their attitudes and expectations of the retail experience.

Our findings will be released in a brand new report very shortly, but before then, we can reveal some bottom line truths about the modern retailer/consumer relationship.

Firstly, industry instincts that the pace of retail is moving faster than ever are definitely on the mark. We found that not only have shoppers’ expectations changed in the last five years, they have shifted even in the past 12 months. Consumers now want more goods, delivered quicker, with greater personalisation and speed of service, than ever before.

Secondly, the consequences of letting customers down in the areas where their priorities have changed the most are severe. If being able to return an online purchase to a store is what matters most to them, for example, not being able to carry out this action can stop them shopping with that retailer for months – possibly even altogether.

However, there is hope for retailers that cannot yet deliver in these critical importance areas. Thirdly, shoppers are willing to make a ‘tolerance trade off’, accepting some form of incentive from the retailer to assuage their level of disappointment. In the case of returns, that could be free shipping to post it back; it could be some form of discount on the product they choose to replace the item they are returning. Getting this trade off right is a question of each retailer knowing and negotiating with their customer base.

We’re very excited about the findings of this report, and we’re going to be delving more deeply into the statistics over the coming weeks, to understand exactly what it is that defines a great retail experience. Not only that, but we’re going to help retailers pick their battles based on these insights, to create a roadmap for nurturing  closer, more responsive shopper relationships.