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Three quarters of brick-and-mortar retailers believe that an engaging in-store customer experience will be essential over the next five years. That’s one of the findings in a new report from Motorola Solutions, entitled "The Future of Retail".

The report found the biggest challenge for retailers is that consumers are regularly researching single purchases online before venturing out to a real store. The solution for retailers with brick-and-mortar stores, according to the study, is an “omni-channel strategy to provide a more seamless experience” between online and in-store, meeting customer needs no matter where they shop.

Connected, Predictive, Personal

The report finds that the emerging, modern retail environment is characterized as being connected, predictive, personal, context-aware and consistent.

(Editor's note: Check out: Taming Fickle Mobile Shoppers with Customer Experience Optimization)

Connectedness will link shoppers and associates to one another, predictive analysis of customer data will anticipate shopper’s needs, and customers will commonly be presented only with the personal information that is applicable to their needs.

Context-aware store systems will generate what the report calls “intelligent events” that are designed for specific locations and activities, and consistent experiences will be conveyed to customers across all channels, including consistent information, purchase/return policies and branding.

The study found several relatively high levels of dissatisfaction among shoppers. These include 45 percent who said they were not happy with the availability of coupons and discounts, 41 percent who were dissatisfied with associates’ knowledge about stock, and 39 percent who were not satisfied with the level of help provided by associates.

Geofencing, Self-Checkout

Within five years, according to 41 percent of surveyed retailers, customers will regularly receive on a smartphone personalized product details based on prior behavior, including in-store behavior. Over thirty-five percent of retailers expect to use geofencing or presence technology that will recognize customers when they walk in. Customers will be sent coupons based on their location in a store, according to 42 percent.

Surveyed retailers also expect that, by 2017, about half of all transactions in stores will be conducted by self-checkout at a terminal or on a mobile device.

Motorola projects some of its solutions into the store of the future. These include its Proximity Awareness technology to provide location-based coupons while in the store, and its mobile payment module to accept payment anywhere. With the company’s Mobile Workforce Management software and Enterprise Voice Solutions, a smart badge worn by an associate on a neck lanyard or a belt can be used to immediately access inventory look-up or product information for an interested customer.

The survey, conducted May 18 through 24, targeted IT management from retailers, and included 250 respondents.