'Tis the Season for Self Checkout, Improved Customer Service, and Intelligent Shopping Tools

Shoppers Looking to Avoid Long Lines, Packed Parking Lots, Poor Customer Service and Out-of-Stock Items, According to IBM Survey

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SOMERS, NY - 06 Dec 2004: The most popular items this holiday season aren't necessarily those hard to find gifts. According to a recent IBM survey, holiday shoppers are searching for ways to avoid long lines, packed parking lots, poor customer service and out-of-stock shelves.

The IBM survey of American consumers shows that almost 60 percent of shoppers cited long checkout lines as the No. 1 frustration of the holiday season; with the level of annoyance over long lines increasing to two-thirds of consumers aged 18-34.

Poor customer service was another holiday shopping headache cited by almost a third of respondents, with holiday shoppers age 65 and older particularly irked (44 percent). Nearly a quarter of shoppers (23 percent) cited stores running out of items or sizes as a holiday shopping hassle.

Today, more than ever before, American shoppers, well versed in Internet shopping and wireless technology, are looking to technology to streamline and simplify their holiday shopping. When asked what would most improve the retail experience during the holidays, more than 40 percent of consumers surveyed asked for some kind of intelligent shopping assistant that could help them find items more easily. In addition, 28 percent of consumers wanted the ability to use self-checkout devices and a quarter of them wished for in-store price scanners. Internet access on a shopping cart was favored by 23 percent of shoppers.

"Shoppers are demanding improved product availability, immediate access to product comparisons, knowledgeable employees and speedy self-checkout. They also want choice and convenience as part of a richer shopping experience overall," said Jan Jackman, general manager, Retail on Demand, IBM. "Fortunately, retailers are beginning to bring the Internet into the stores and are beginning to roll out emerging new technologies like the Shopping Buddy intelligent shopping cart, self-checkout, and in-store kiosks. These new technologies promise to help retailers address these frustrations while providing shoppers with greater flexibility, convenience and empowerment than ever before."

The IBM retail shopping survey was of a sample of 1,000 consumers. It was conducted just before Thanksgiving, the traditional kickoff of retail's busiest and most important season.

Retail also has seen a dramatic rise in online shoppers. In the IBM survey, 63 percent of the shoppers surveyed cited convenience (the ability to shop from anywhere -- work or home) as the number one reason to shop online this holiday season. Over half (57 percent) said that the ability to browse is what makes traditional stores appealing destinations during the holiday shopping season, while more than a third (35 percent) said they wanted the "instant gratification" of shopping in a traditional store, rather than waiting for an online purchase to be shipped to them.

Additional Survey Findings:

Methodology: Ketchum Research and ORC International conducted this survey on behalf of IBM. A total of 1,000 telephone interviews were conducted with American adults age 18 and older. The questionnaire consisted of eight closed-ended questions, not including screeners or demographics.