What Shoppers Want from Retail Technology

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Interactions, a global leader of customer care solutions and experiential marketing, released their latest Retail Perceptions report, titled “What Shoppers Want From Retail Technology.” The study was commissioned to explore when and how shoppers want to interact with technology during their retail journey.

The study found that incorporation of more advanced technology is strongly desired by consumers, with 84% of the 1,000 adult shoppers surveyed reporting that they expect retailers to use technology to improve the shopping experience and 68% believing that technological advances in retail will lead to increased safety of their personal information. Shoppers want these interactions to be on their terms though—when and where they are, and for them to be geared around helping them plan more effectively and reduce in-store time by providing insightful and targeted promotional discount information before they get there.

But, while 48% of shoppers expect retailers to increase the incorporation of retail technology to improve their shopping experience, they do not want this technology to replace human interaction with store associates. Instead, they want it to be a melding of the two. They want a strong technology presence coupled with the familiarity of human interaction. In fact, 62% of shoppers are motivated by an initial human greeting upon entering a store, as they view store associates as part of the overall retail experience, creating an inviting and community-like environment that deepens brand connectivity. In addition, only 25% prefer to rely solely on technology to help them answer questions while shopping in-store

“Consumers want both digital and human interfaces today. They desire the integration of technology into their shopping experience, but nothing can truly replace the accessibility of a traditional store associate,” said Interactions President Bharat Rupani. “The key for retailers is to balance human interaction with technology to streamline and compliment the consumer’s overall retail journey.”

Although consumers desire the presence of in-store associates for personal guidance during their retail experience, the study found that shoppers would most value the following technological advances in their retail shopping journey:

Targeted Notifications: Shoppers’ behaviors can be influenced by pre- and post-shop communication from retailers, in addition to in-store messaging. Nearly 60% of consumers spend more money at stores that send mobile notifications while in-store or while at home and 68% say notifications have led them to make an unplanned purchase. Retailers have the opportunity to active unplanned purchase decisions and motivation to visit a physical store or website through a consistent stream of targeted communication from pre- to post-shop.

Customizable Products: Anticipated technological advancements such as personalization and 3D printing have made consumers eager to create their own customized products. 95% of shoppers are looking forward to purchasing products created through 3D printing and nearly 80% of shoppers say they are inclined to spend more at a retailer that can help create their own products through 3D printing. Consumers no longer want to have to go through the process of manually personalizing their products online and waiting weeks for it to be produced and delivered—they want on-demand personalization..the ability to see a product in-store and instantly make it their own.

Checkout Efficiency: Only 10% of shoppers want to interact with a store associate as part of the checkout process, providing retailers with the opportunity to employ alternative, automated checkout methods. This most likely comes down to time, as consumers view their time as precious and want to avoid waiting in long lines. Empowered consumers want to have control over the speed of item scanning, packaging, discount redemption and payment.

“It’s no longer an option, today’s retailers must invest in technological advances to provide shoppers with the seamless retail experience they desire,” said Rekha Ramesh, senior vice president of Global IT and Digital, Daymon Worldwide. “For retailers who need to prioritize where to invest, faster, more automated alternative checkout methods followed closely by targeted notifications are good points of entry,” advised Rekha.

While retail technologies like targeted mobile notifications and automated checkout can provide new convenience and service that satisfies consumers’ needs, shoppers still want to touch, talk and feel. They don’t want to see the traditional characteristics of the in-store shopping experience, such as the feeling of community, brand immersion or social connectivity, be diminished. As you think of incorporating technology into your retail locations, think about the experience before anything else.

“What motivates a retail client to think beyond shopping to a retail excursion is more than a purchase — it’s the creation of a memory. This excursion may include a meal, a family activity, an event or another engagement that becomes a shareable moment. The retail experience has a lot more to do with the environment, the culture and the brand promise, rather than just another day at the mall,” writes Joseph Grano in Forbes article “Rethinking Retail Marketing In An Era Of Change.”

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