New research from Manhattan Associates highlights a strong preference among shoppers for meaningful in-store interactions. Contrary to popular belief, the survey results also indicate a more profound sense of loyalty than previously assumed.

The study revealed that while technology is ever-present in the shopper landscape, consumers prefer human interaction. In a checkout environment, more than half (53%) of shoppers wanted human assisted purchasing, compared with only 24% who preferred the option of self-checkout.

Manhattan Associates Australia and New Zealand managing director, Raghav Sibal said, “It’s not about avoiding technology, but about leveraging it to enhance human connections. The future of retail is not an either-or between online and in-person; it’s a sophisticated ecosystem that prioritises customer relationships at every touchpoint and empowers retail assistants to meet instore customer requirements.”

When interacting with retail assistants, almost two-thirds (63%) of consumers said that they wanted retail assistants to have knowledge about the product that they were interested in buying and 19% said that they wanted them to be able to help demonstrate or physically show a product to them.

While many perceive loyalty to be a dying concept in the retail sector, this isn’t the case. When faced with an out-of-stock situation in a retail store, research shows that only 18% of shoppers believed they would try and find the same product in another store.

Interestingly, a large majority (67%) of consumers would either inquire with store associates about its availability at a nearby location, express willingness to explore similar brands within the same store or opt to order the product for in-store pick-up or home delivery.

“The fact that data revealed most shoppers’ don’t immediately flock to competitors when faced with out-of-stock scenarios demonstrates that consumer loyalty still exists. Today, brand loyalty is built on both trust and convenience. It’s the ability of in-store staff to offer immediate, informed solutions when stock is not available – not only resolving the immediate concern but also strengthening the consumer’s trust in the brand,” Sibal added.

Through the pandemic, consumers identified delivery times as a key consideration when making a purchase. Yet, in today’s economic landscape, research indicates that delivery costs have surpassed delivery times as the more pressing concern.

“Delivery cost takes precedence over speed today, with 73% of shoppers citing delivery cost as a key consideration when making a purchase. In contrast, only a minority now view delivery times as crucial. This transition marks a discernible shift in consumer priorities, highlighting their heightened price sensitivity and search for value amid financial constraints.”