Listen up, retailers: If you're not delivering personalized digital customer experience, you're going to lose customers.

New research from TimeTrade, a provider of online appointment scheduling, showed service expectations are rising.

The bright side: These higher expectations present an opportunity for retailers to tailor in-store shopping and provide a “concierge” experience.

Major Disconnect

TimeTrade surveyed more than 5,000 consumers and 100 senior retail executives to take the pulse of the retail industry. It found 90 percent of consumers surveyed plan to shop in-store at least as much as they did last year.

When shopping in-store, consumers most highly value “prompt service” (54 percent), “personalized experience” (30%) and “smart recommendations” (30 percent). But "lack of prompt assistance" will drive 85 percent of consumers out the door  — leaving their intended purchases behind.

It's especially hard to find a store associate in outdoor and home furnishing stores, according to 75 percent and 73 percent of consumers, respectively.

Only about one in four consumers feel retailers provide a consistent customer experience across channels — significantly fewer than what retailers themselves believe. More than one out of two retailers think they are successfully providing seamless cross-channel experience, the survey found.

Learning Opportunities

The retailers may be overly optimistic: For example, 59 percent of respondents would like it if store associates knew the items in their online shopping carts, but only 24 percent of retailers said they currently have that ability. About 12 percent of retailers are looking to implement it within the next 18 months.

"Retailers must focus on ensuring seamless connections between digital and traditional channels and on delivering prompt, personalized in-store service to meet rising expectations," TimeTrade concluded.

The full State of Retail Report 2016 can be accessed here.

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Title image by Ryan McGuire