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Global Shopper Study Finds Retail Store Associates Believe They Can Provide Better Customer Service with Tablets

A large majority (66 percent) of surveyed retail associates believe that if they were equipped with tablets, they could provide better customer service and improve the customer shopping experience. This was one of the key findings from Zebra Technologies’ 11th annual Global Shopper Study that analyzed the attitudes, opinions, and expectations of shoppers, retail associates, and retail decision makers.

Fifty-five percent of surveyed store associates agree that their company is understaffed, and nearly one-half (49 percent) feel overworked. Store associates cite frustration with their inability to assist customers as 42 percent find they have little time to help shoppers because of pressure to get other tasks completed. Another 28 percent claim that it’s difficult to get information to help shoppers. Most surveyed retail decision makers (83 percent) and store associates (74 percent) concur that shoppers can have a better experience with technology-equipped sales associates.

Meanwhile, only 13 percent of surveyed shoppers completely trust retailers to protect their personal data, the lowest level of trust among 10 different industries. Seventy-three percent of surveyed shoppers prefer flexibility to control how their personal information is used.

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“Our study reveals shopper expectations are on the rise,” said Jeff Schmitz, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Zebra Technologies. “While retailers are addressing fulfillment challenges, they also need to provide a more trusted, personalized shopping experience that gives customers what they want, when, where, and how they want it.”

The study also identified diverging expectations on the impact of automation between retailers and store associates. Nearly 80 percent of retail decision makers—compared to 49 percent of store associates—agree that staff checkout areas are becoming less necessary due to new technologies that can automate checkout. Also, more than one-half of retail decision makers (52 percent) are converting point-of-sale (POS) space to self-checkout, and 62 percent are transforming it for online order pickup.

More than one-half of shoppers (51 percent) believe they are better connected with their smartphones than store associates. Retailers are investing in edge technologies to combat this gap. Nearly 60 percent of retailers plan to increase their spend on handheld mobile computers by more than six percent, and more than one-in-five retailers (21 percent) plan to spend greater than 10 percent on rugged tablets over the next three years.

Key Regional Findings


  • Sixty-two percent of retail associates view their employer more positively if provided with a mobile device for work-related activities.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) of retail associates say that mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices help them do their job better.

Europe and the Middle East

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  • Seventy-four percent of decision makers agree that increased e-commerce is driving more interest in fulfillment solutions and warehouse investments.
  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) of retail decision makers agree that accepting and/or managing returns of online orders is a significant challenge.

Latin America

  • Both shoppers (59 percent) and store associates (67 percent) believe that shoppers are better connected to consumer information than store associates.
  • Ninety-nine percent of retail IT decision-makers believe they need better inventory management tools to ensure accuracy.

North America

  • Eleven percent of shoppers completely trust retailers to protect their personal data, the lowest level of trust in any surveyed vertical industry, including healthcare, financial institutions and technology companies.
  • Nearly seven in 10 store associates (68 percent) reported that electronic shelf-labels would have a positive impact on the customer experience, and 54 percent of surveyed shoppers are likely to read them.

Survey Background and Methodology

Zebra’s 11th annual Global Shopper Study included approximately 4,725 shoppers, 1,225 retail associates and 430 decision makers from North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the Middle East who were interviewed in October-November 2018 by Qualtrics. For more information, visit

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