Self-Service of the Worst Kind

March 10, 2016

While I love my smart phone, I don’t want to use it everywhere.

It’s annoying to go to a pharmacy, grocery store, or other retailer and have to dig out my phone because I need basic questions answered about a product. A sales person is nowhere to be found, and there’s scant information on the shelf.

It’s self-service of the worst kind.

Touch and Feel

Part of the reason shoppers (including myself) go to a retail store is to touch and feel a product. The other part is to get advice, ideally from a sales person who has some experience and information about a product.

This is especially true in the over-the-counter drug aisle. Many consumers rely on pharmacists to answer questions about the wide array of products. In fact, 57% people talked to a pharmacist about which over-the-counter product to use, according to a study by OnCue Technologies.

But not all places that sell OTCs even have a pharmacy. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) estimates that there are more than 750,000 retail outlets that sell OTC products, and only 54,000 pharmacies.

How can Retailers Help Consumers

One thing retailers can do to help consumers is to invest in digital kiosks to provide advice and product information.

With cloud-based technologies, these kiosks can be easily updated with the latest product insights.

They can provide as much or as little information as the consumer wants. They can also be programmed to include “Help Me Choose” functionality, like Sellr.

While kiosks/computers won’t necessarily replace salespeople — most retailers are already running lean — they would supplement the level of service provided. And, as a result, I would expect customer satisfaction to increase.

Work with Smart Phones

This is not to say that consumers will stop using their cell phones in a retail store. It has become a habit for many.

But the good thing is that many of these digital kiosks can enhance the smart phone experience — sending coupons, information, and instructions directly to the phone, or to a personal email address provided.

At the very least, kiosks will show shoppers that retailers want to help them make a more informed purchase decision… and avoid self-service of the worst kind.