More than half of retail decision-makers (55%) believe they are completely trusted to fulfill online orders as promised, but only 38% of shoppers indicate complete trust in retailers, according to Zebra’s latest Annual Global Shopper Study.

Even retail associates are wary of their employers’ capabilities, with only half (51%) completely trusting their employer’s ability to deliver or fulfill customers’ online/mobile orders as promised.  To improve this level of trust, retail decision-makers are increasingly embracing solutions that improve inventory planning and execution, and the broader supply chain.

Although two-thirds of shoppers plan to return to brick-and-mortar locations in the coming months, almost three-quarters (73%) want to get in and out of stores quickly, while 65% are still worried about exposure to others, and not as many trust retailers to adhere to health and safety mandates or protocols in stores as they did in 2020.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) would prefer to have items delivered to them rather than pick up orders at the store or other location. Interestingly, shoppers are also researching product pricing (50%) online before they leave home and nearly one-third are checking store inventory before they leave home, while only 19% were doing so in 2019.

About one-third of consumers say they use their mobile devices to lookup competitive prices or browse online websites for products during shopping trips. More than 70% confirm they have recently left stores without all the items they wanted, with nearly half citing out-of-stocks as the reason for not making an in-store purchase.

Consequently, 58% of shoppers say it’s faster to lookup information on their smartphones than ask associates for help, and most associates (64%) agree, leaving retailers unaware of when in-store customers are contemplating m-commerce purchases, possibly with competitors. More than 25% of surveyed shoppers have placed click-and-collect m-commerce orders while out shopping, with some even completing mobile orders for home delivery.

More than 6 in 10 say they would be willing to purchase out-of-stock items before leaving the store if they could pick those items up at another one of the retailer’s nearby stores or the items could be shipped to their homes.

With retail channels increasingly blending, over three-quarters of decision-makers say increasing the efficiency of online order processing and fulfillment is a priority. Nearly 9 in 10 decision-makers confirm their company is now looking at ways to improve in-store pick and pack as well as warehouse fulfillment. 

Over one-third of decision-makers are now converting store space into designated pickup and returns locations, which could help divert traffic away from a central customer service desk.

With labour shortages and associate satisfaction also impacting retail store execution, most decision-makers say they plan to deploy workforce and task management software in the next year. This is positive feedback considering 70% of associates view their employers more positively when they are provided with technology and over 80% say they could provide a better customer experience if they had mobile computers and barcode scanners in hand.