ARMONK, N.Y., Jan. 11, 2011—A new IBM (NYSE:  IBM)  survey of more than 30,000 consumers released today demonstrates that,  while shoppers are optimistic about the future, they have developed attitudes during the global recession over the past several years that still dictate their behavior:  They buy what they need, search for items on sale and wait longer to purchase, and they have embraced the use of technology throughout every step of the process.

According to the study:

  • Seventy percent are positive about their income situation.
  • However, the shopping attitude is that frugality reigns.  Their top three shopping attitudes are to only buy what they need, search for items on sale and wait longer to purchase.
  • Forty-nine percent of respondents were “instrumented consumers” – those who use two or more technologies, e.g. a website,  mobile device or in-store kiosk to shop—a 36 percent increase since IBM’s last retail study a year ago.

Serve me, don’t sell me

In this new environment, service is paramount, and consumers should be at the center of any retailer’s strategy. In order to succeed, retailers need to do three things:  listen to, know and empower consumers.

  • Listen:  From Facebook to Twitter, to blogs, YouTube and reviews, shoppers are leveraging social media more than ever before to discuss retailers,  products and brands with friends, family members and strangers.  Retailers that listen to and participate in these conversations can obtain added insight into what customers want.
  • Know: While listening is important, a personalized shopping experience is still dominant in the mind of the consumer. By offering promotions on items they regularly buy and remembering things such as preferred payment methods and receipt types, retailers can increase spend and loyalty among shoppers.
  • Empower: Finally, retailers must empower consumers by making it as easy as possible to shop seamlessly across channels and letting them choose how to interact. Forty percent of the people we surveyed want to check product prices wherever they are and get promotions based on the items they scan, while 50 percent are willing to use a personal mobile device to avoid the checkout lane.

“As we’re finally starting to come out of a very painful recession, we’re seeing consumers who are finally optimistic about the future. This new attitude, however, doesn’t mean they’re rushing to stores and spending like the pre-recession heyday,” said Jill Puleri,  IBM Global Industry Retail Executive, IBM Global Business Services.  “Retailers need to personalize the shopping experience for consumers,  using to technology to better understand and serve their consumer, if they want to win in this new environment.”

From its more than 200 retail patents, to the invention of the bar code over 30 years ago; to its thousands of in-house professionals and partners in retail around the globe and its position as the world’s market share leader in point-of-sale (POS) systems, IBM has a rich history in retail and is best-positioned to help retailers address the smarter consumer. IBM provides business consulting and delivery services, retail industry solutions comprising merchandising and supply chain management,  multi-channel retailing and performance analytics. Its Retail Center for Competency helps retailers leverage technology to streamline costs,  reduce inefficiencies, aid product development and speed go-to-market activities.

Keith Wiley

IBM Media Relations


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