Long queues at registers, bad service and a scarcity of sales staff are driving Australian shoppers from bricks and mortar stores to the internet.
According to a new nationwide poll by Crossman Communications, shoppers are increasingly treating physical stores as a dress rehearsal for their online needs – they go to them to try on clothes for size and suitability before buying them online, ask for the price on goods to be matched to what they can buy them for on the internet, and quiz sales people for information to use for an online purchase.
Of those polled, 65 per cent agreed that if service was better in physical stores they would shop in them more often. Long queues at the checkout or register were by far the biggest complaint with 43 per cent of those surveyed regularly experiencing this issue and a further 45 per cent, occasionally.
Crossman Communications managing director, Jackie Crossman, says the poll served as a real wake-up call for retailers.
“Retailers might be facing thinner margins in this tough economic climate but they have to look seriously at their service model if they are going to keep their customers satisfied,” Crossman says.
“Cutting back on staff to stem falling profits is not a solution. Sales assistants need to be well trained and to be there when shoppers need them.”
Two-thirds (68 per cent) of respondents felt staff numbers had been pared back too far by physical store retailers, particularly in the big cities with 72 per cent sharing this view, compared to 61 per cent elsewhere.
This was reflected in a third (32 per cent) regularly being unable to find a sales assistant when needed, while 21 per cent regularly found sales assistants not knowledgeable enough to answer their question.
Fifteen per cent regularly experienced rude or bad attitudes from sales staff and 43 per cent said they had found staff gossiping on mobile phones when they needed assistance, though 23 per cent of those surveyed said they had never experienced this issue.
That bad service was a key finding in the poll highlights the fact that Australia’s physical store retailers have more than just the high $1,000 GST threshold for imported online goods to contend with.
“The internet has introduced a global shopping environment whether retailers like it or not,” says Crossman.
“Manufacturers and retailers need to work together to manage the distribution channel. Once you would go to stores for exclusivity and be prepared to pay the price, but now you see brands popping up everywhere and frequently at cheaper prices. By trying to work across both online and physical retailers, manufacturers are devaluing their brands and cannibalising the market for their products.”