New study finds volume of shoppers returning to stores nearing pre-pandemic levels

A new study by Zebra Technologies Corporation titled 15th Annual Global Shopper Study has found out that shoppers are returning to shop in stores in similar numbers seen prior to the pandemic. They have also embraced self-serve habits as they increasingly use “do-it-yourself” (DIY) technology in stores, allowing retail associates more time on the floor to help shoppers.

The survey was conducted between June and July 2022, collecting feedback from more than 4,000 retail decision-makers, retail associates, and shoppers around the world, including APAC respondents from India amongst other markets.

Here are the findings of the study:

Gearing toward mobile-first retail experience

While nearly 75% of shoppers globally (68% in APAC) say inflation has caused them to delay purchases, they are still returning to stores. However, most shoppers (76% globally, 68% in APAC) want to get in and out as quickly as possible. And they are willing to help make that happen with their growing affinity for self-serve technology.

Globally, shopper interactions across self-serve solutions continue to rise with nearly half of shoppers citing they have used self-checkouts, and almost four-in-10 used cashless payment methods. A similar trend is observed in India and other APAC markets whereby self-checkouts are used by 47% of shoppers, while 46% of those surveyed opt for cashless payment methods.

Forty-three percent of shoppers globally (50% in APAC) surveyed prefer paying with a mobile device or smartphone. Over half (50% globally, 48% in APAC) prefer self-checkout, while preference for a traditional check-out register staffed by a store associate has similarly declined (55% globally, 51% in APAC).

A majority of retailers believe staffed checkouts are becoming less necessary with automation technology. Around the world, nearly half are readying their stores, converting traditional check-out spaces to self-serve and contactless options. These sentiments are echoed in India along with other APAC markets as well – 79% of retailers view staffed checkouts as less necessary, while 53% have converted store space to self-serve areas and 52% are offering contactless options.

Consumers also continue to rely on their smartphones during shopping trips; this year’s usage indicates price sensitivity as over half of those surveyed are checking for sales, specials, or coupons (51% globally, 48% in APAC), aligning with a good majority of shoppers (68% globally, 67% in APAC) concerned about having to reduce spending to make ends meet.

Overall, shoppers are ready for technological advancements, with about eight-in-10 expecting retailers to have the latest technology.

Shoppers demand an “Everything Experience”

Consumers expect a seamless experience however they shop. Seven-in-10 prefer shopping both in-store and online as well as favor online retailers that also offer brick-and-mortar locations. Convenience is king for fulfillment: most shoppers (75% globally, 73% in APAC) prefer the option to have items delivered and opt for retailers who offer in-store or curbside pick-up (64% both globally and in APAC). The same is true for reverse logistics: about eight-in-10 shoppers (80% globally, 77% in APAC) prioritize their spending with retailers that offer easy returns. Nearly half of surveyed retailers (49% both globally and in APAC) are converting space in their stores for order pick-up, supporting consumer fulfillment preferences. Mobile ordering continues to increase, with around eight-in-10 shoppers and nine-in-10 millennials using it, and around seven-in-10 shoppers wanting more retailers to offer such services.

“Shoppers don’t necessarily evaluate retail channels. Rather, they view it as one shopping experience however they shop,” said George Pepes, APAC Vertical Solutions Lead for Retail and Healthcare, Zebra Technologies. “With e-commerce as today’s normal, channels have since converged and it is essential for retailers to ensure a seamless experience across their offline and online platforms. More importantly, they need to empower retail associates with the right technology to better perform their tasks, as the retail sector heads into the future of fulfilment.”

While 79% of global shoppers (76% in APAC) are concerned about inflationary price increases on everyday essentials, they are not necessarily leaving stores without the items they wanted due to price. Retail associates expressed out-of-stock complaints as their number one frustration (43% globally, 38% in APAC).

Globally, a whopping 76% of shoppers leave without the items they intended to purchase with 49% blaming it on out-of-stocks. In India amongst other APAC markets, the share of shoppers that do not complete their intended purchase order is lower overall (64%), with reasons including out-of-stock products (44%) or having found better deals elsewhere (27%).

Retailers are painfully aware of such reasons; 80% acknowledge the maintenance of real-time visibility for out-of-stocks as a significant challenge, needing better inventory management tools for accuracy and availability (79% globally, 84% in APAC).

Leveraging Labour

Currently, nearly seven-in-10 shoppers are satisfied with help from retail associates, compared to only 37% in 2007. Generally, shoppers, retail associates and retail decision-makers agree shoppers have a better experience when retail associates use the latest technology to assist them. But that is not the only benefit, particularly in the face of labor shortages: most surveyed retail associates (78% globally, 74% in APAC) and retail decision-makers (84% globally, 82% in APAC) agree that stores leveraging retail technology and mobile devices attract and retain more retail associates as well.

To further improve the shopping experience, more than eight-in-10 retailers surveyed aim to enable more retail associates or seasonal staff to help customers pick and fulfill online orders for the 2022 holiday season. This also addresses another challenge cited by three-quarters of surveyed retailers: improving online fulfillment efficiency (78% globally, 73% in APAC) and expense (77% globally, 71% in APAC).


Asia Pacific (APAC): India along with other markets in the APAC region had the highest percentage of retailers (80%) who agree upskilling/reskilling current store staff is a significant challenge. Holiday shoppers in APAC expect over half (54%) of their holiday purchases to be in stores.

Europe: Second only to APAC (68%), Europe (69%) has seen the lowest impact of inflation on shoppers delaying purchases, compared to other regions surveyed globally. Over six-in-10 retail associates in Europe agree managing returns of online orders is a significant challenge.

Latin America: Only 68% of retailers surveyed in Latin American agree shoppers are spending less due to inflation, compared to 82% who believe they are spending less globally. Nine-in-10 shoppers in Latin America have used mobile ordering, leading globally.

North America: Sixty-nine percent of shoppers surveyed in North America agree more retailers need to offer mobile ordering. Over 90% of retail decision-makers surveyed say they are increasing the speed and convenience of fulfillment options for holiday orders.

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