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Over half (54%) of UK shoppers say they prefer interactions with both workers and technology rather than fully automated shopping experiences. Despite the pandemic accelerating technology adoption, consumers clearly expect retailers to strike the right balance between staff and technology. The research from retail voice communication specialist VoCoVo also reveals that 49% of shoppers value store workers more as a result of the pandemic, highlighting the need to champion staff as they return to stores in a challenging climate.

The majority (82%) of UK shoppers will change the way they shop as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with 21% saying they will shop more using touch-free payment methods and 34% saying they will do more shopping online. These findings reinforce a shift to more frictionless shopping experiences but shoppers still value staff alongside technology, as 28% believe retail workers improve the in-store experience.

However, the research also highlights room for improvement in-store with 22% of shoppers saying they get frustrated by staff inefficiency and 18% by poor customer service. Retailers risk losing out on sales if these issues go unaddressed with 48% of consumers admitting to regularly purchasing items on their phone while in store. Worryingly, almost a quarter (23%) would leave the store and do research at home rather than ask a store worker for information. But staff remain an important part of the solution, with 49% of shoppers believing a combination of both technology and staff is the answer to improving customer service.

“The retail sector is experiencing a clear shift in consumer habits which have been influenced by the pandemic. The preference for contact-free payments is symbolic of the acceleration towards a cashless society and retailers need to ensure in-store experiences are as frictionless as possible. However, to provide a seamless experience to satisfy everyone, it’s clear the retail worker still has a vital role to play. Retailers that implement technologies which enable store staff instead of replacing them will be best placed to succeed post-pandemic,” says Martyn Jones, CCO, VoCoVo.

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