Retailers Not Meeting Shoppers’ Expectations: Report

By Mario Toneguzzi

Recent years have seen the retail narrative dominated by doom and gloom stories of customer spending on the decline and bricks and mortar locations shutting down.

But is the narrative true?

That’s the question posed by a new retail report by Salesforce and Publicis.SapientShopper-First Retailing: The New Rules of Retail from the Actions, Voices, and Eyes of Today’s Consumers.

“To enable and empower shopper success in a retail organization today, it’s absolutely critical to focus on these four pillars of consumer engagement: mobile, stores, intelligence, and connected experiences,” said Rob Garf, VP of Industry Strategy & Insights, Salesforce.

The report found three shopper-first mandates emerging that apply to virtually all retailers:

  • Make It Fresh. Create unique, non-commoditized products and compete at the speed of today’s shopper. 69 per cent of shoppers expect to see new merchandise when visiting a site or store;

  • Be Where I Am. Develop a frictionless experience that’s accessible to shoppers, wherever they need you to be. 87 per cent of shoppers begin their hunt in digital channels, up from 71 per cent last year; and

  • Give It Meaning. Strengthen the relationship with your customers through stronger values-driven connections, and recognize shoppers with personalization and loyalty initiatives. 64 per cent of shoppers agree or strongly agree that retailers don’t truly know them.

The report also found that: mobile accounts for 92 per cent of ecommerce order growth; 71 per cent of shoppers prefer to leave a store with a product in-hand; and personalization influences 38 per cent of all digital revenue.

“Shoppers reward brands that connect them with products and experiences in unique, agile packages,” said the report. “Our research – based on a global consumer survey, behavioral data and in-store mystery shopping visits – painted a clear picture of shopper’s continuous demand for new, innovative and customized products,” said the report. “Shoppers value freshness with their wallets, as 59 per cent of the top five per cent of products sold are new each month. This creates a sweeping product catalog churn of 32 per cent month over month. Speed and freshness play an important role in generating long-term brand loyalty and driving repeat purchases – two areas where brands have lost ground to both traditional competitors and marketplaces.

“Shoppers reward brands that anticipate and identify the precise moments when a need exists or interest is piqued in their shopping journey. Shoppers today are more connected than ever, seamlessly switching between channels and devices, all while expecting retailers to know them and make purchasing easy. Yet in our study, too many retailers didn’t meet shoppers’ expectations. For example, across the 70 physical store locations studied, the average mobile score was 1.74 out of 5, grading areas like in-store app experiences and tailored push notifications. Rather than leave omni-channel customers wondering where to go next, retailers must engage customers in context and on their terms.

“Shoppers reward brands that go beyond transactions and orders to be relevant and resonant. Today’s shoppers are relationship-driven, favouring brands that bring value and meaning to their lives. Retailers and brands must look for new ways to differentiate by appealing to customers’ emotions and forging connections based on shared beliefs. Our research found that shoppers reward brands that create lasting relationships over time — specifically through loyalty programs and one-to-one personalization efforts that extend across both digital and physical channels. Our survey found that 64 per cent of shoppers feel retailers “don’t truly know them,” highlighting the need for retailers to prove that they do.”

The report said retail sales in the first quarter of this year were up five per cent year-over-year with digital channels experiencing robust growth and ecommerce now accounting for 9.5 per cent of all retail sales. Consumer confidence also continues to rise.


But the report also highlighted the fact that stores are closing “at an alarming rate” with more than 12,000 shuttered since the beginning of 2017 and Amazon is dominating, capturing 78 per cent of ecommerce growth in the U.S.

It said a new swarm of retail startups, direct-to-consumer brands, and new low-cost and experience-led competitors—combined with a backstage technology revolution in supply chain, robotics, automation, blockchain, and dark stores—are changing the way retailers compete in the digital age.

The full report can be found here:

Publicis.Sapient, the digital business transformation hub of Publicis Groupe, helps clients drive growth and efficiency and evolve the ways they work. It has more than 19,000 people and more than 100 offices around the globe.

Salesforce is a global CRM leader.

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email:

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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