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Retail commerce | Marketing

Four Types of In-Store Shoppers (and How to Cater to Each)

image: Young lady retail shopping, standing outside with shopping bags over her shoulder.
An Advice and Guidance Seeker has different preferences to a Resolution Requester. The most successful retailers know how to cater to each type of consumer—and so can you

Since the advent of ecommerce, most studies of shopper segments have focused on online behaviors. But let's not forget that in-store commerce still far exceeds online commerce in terms of frequency and money spent.


Synchrony Financial didn't forget, which is why it conducted qualitative and quantitative research to classify in-store shoppers into four broad categories, with advice on how best to cater to each.


Actually, the categories are more about types of shopping behaviours and less about types of shoppers. A person could exhibit certain types of behavior when shopping for, say, apparel but different behavior when in the market for a car.


For instance, the largest segment identified by Synchrony, accounting for 38% of in-store shoppers, is what it calls Advice and Guidance Seekers. But while 42% of consumers seeking electronics, luxury, and outdoor products fall into this category, only 23% of apparel shoppers do.


In its "In-Store Shopper Segmentation Study," Synchrony describes these consumers as preferring to shop in-store as opposed to online because they appreciate interacting with store staff in person. These shoppers want store associates to make recommendations, communicate the latest offers and promotions, and remind them to use store loyalty cards.


Catering to these shoppers is fairly straightforward: Have store staff inform them about your latest product and service offerings; promote any loyalty programs or proprietary credit cards you may offer; and in general be attentive, friendly, and helpful.


The next-largest segment, accounting for 31% of shoppers, consists of Resolution Requesters. Their penetration by product category is fairly consistent, accounting for 36% of auto-parts shoppers, 30% of apparel and luxury shoppers, and 29% of electronics and outdoor products shoppers. These are the shoppers that want to get in and out of the store quickly with as little hassle as possible. They don't want store staff hovering over them, but they do expect an associate to be there when they need one, and they expect that associate to be well informed regarding both products and returns, warranties, and related matters. To best serve these shoppers, you want follow their lead: "Apply a 'no pressure' sales approach," Synchrony suggests. "Be there when they request your help; otherwise give this shopper space."


Independent Intention Shoppers are even more focused on a quick, frictionless shopping experience. Though they account for 18% of consumers overall, 32% of apparel shoppers exhibit this behavior, compared with 17% of home-durables shoppers, 14% of electronics buyers, and only 12% of those seeking auto parts or luxury goods. These are the shoppers who appreciate self-service price scanners so that they don't have to reach out to a sales associate to know the price, and they don't want to feel the slightest bit of sales pressure.


To best serve these consumers, in-store signage is important; they'd rather read about the benefits and features of a product than have to ask a staffer for the information. Self-service devices appeal to them as well.


Self-service price scanners, self-checkout kiosks, and other types of tech-enabled services that eliminate the need to deal with store staff are even more appealing to the Self-Service Tech Enthusiasts. Accounting for 13% of consumers overall, they're slightly more prevalent among those shopping for luxury goods (16%), electronics, and apparel (15% each) than those in the marketing for outdoor goods (12%) and home durables (10%). Signage that includes integrated video or augmented reality—for instance, animations that show how to assemble products or provide virtual makeovers—will win these shoppers over, as will QR codes that provide additional product information.


Of course, you have no way of knowing when a customer walks in the store whether he is an Advice and Guidance Seeker versus a Self-Service Tech Enthusiast. That's why you need to instruct staff to take their cues from the shoppers themselves; how they respond to a store associate's greeting speaks volumes. That's also why your store should provide detailed, informative signage as well as helpful, knowledgeable staff. If niceties such as self-service kiosks are out of your reach, you could at least consider offering an app so that shoppers who rely on their smartphones can access additional information while in-store.


author: Sherry Chiger

Sherry Chiger

The editorial director of Your Commerce, Sherry Chiger is an award-winning writer and editor. She was formerly editorial director of Multichannel Merchant and Catalogue e-business magazines.


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