Technology making major inroads in the retail experience

Technology making major inroads into the retail experience

Most shoppers believe technology is improving their retail experience, and it is in the product search and decision-making process that consumers value innovation most.

These are the findings of the latest Consumer View Report from the National Retail Federation, who note while technology is making major inroads into the retail experience, there is still room for improvement in terms of awareness and delivery.

Here’s an insight into what the NRF found.

The robot in the room – Summer 2019 Consumer View Report

In early September, the NRF released their Summer 2019 Consumer View Report. Entitled ‘The Robot in the Room’ the quarterly report takes a deep dive into how shoppers feel about and use the technology currently available in retail.

The report notes more than three in five shoppers believe technology and innovation has improved the retail experience, but this varies across the channels available.

They found:

  • 80 per cent of shoppers felt technology had improved their experience online
  • 66 per cent believed it had improved their experience in-store
  • 63 per cent felt it improved their experience on mobile

Eliminating the guess work

When it comes to where consumers value technology most, the majority felt innovation added real value in product search and selection and could be utilized to take the frustration out of the pre-purchase process.

The report found the following top three priorities:

  • 55 per cent of shoppers wanted to know whether a product was in-store or available, and 52 per cent felt it was very important that brands or retailers have these technologies and innovations.
  • 49 per cent wanted assistance comparing products prices or reviews, and 42 per cent felt these technologies were very important.
  • 47 per cent wanted it to be easier to find a product or location, with 41 per cent viewing this technology as important.

Checkout experience

The technology the shoppers want

When it came to purchasing methods, most consumers were aware of new technologies like self-checkouts, mobile payments, and buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and many shoppers have embraced retail solutions that simplify the checkout experience.

Self-checkout – 62 per cent of consumers are aware of the self-checkout, 89 per cent of those who are aware have tried it and 63 per cent were satisfied.

Mobile payment – 59 per cent of consumers are aware of mobile payment. Of those, 57 per cent have tried it and 69 per cent are satisfied.

BOPIS – 56 per cent of consumers are aware of buy online pickup in store. Of those, 71 per cent have tried it and 67 per cent were satisfied with the process.

Beyond the basics

Beyond the basics of product search and selection, consumers are also now more aware of new technologies available like voice assistants, smart fitting rooms, and social shopping.

Although they may be aware, many are yet to experience this technology, but those who have used it report a generally positive response.

Voice assistants – 43 per cent of shoppers are aware of voice assistants. Of those 64 per cent have tried them and are interested in doing so again.

Social shopping – 34 per cent of shoppers are aware of social shopping, with 78 per cent having tried it and interested in using it again.

In-app store navigation – 56 per cent of shoppers have heard of in-app store navigation. Of those, 89 per cent have tried it and would do so again.

Visual search – 27 per cent are aware of virtual search, and of those, 86 per cent have tried it and would do so again.

Virtual reality – 21 per cent of consumers have heard of virtual reality. Of those 82 per cent have tried it and would be interested in using it again.

Augmented reality – On a similar noted, 1 have also heard of augmented reality, while 86 per cent have tried it and are interested in using it again.

Virtual fit – 19 per cent of shoppers have heard of virtual fi. Of those who are aware, 83 per cent have used it and are interested in trying it again.

Smart dressing room – Just 15 per cent of shoppers have heard of smart dressing rooms, and 88 per cent of them have tried it and would do so again.

The final word

Although consumers are now more aware of technology and its role in the retail experience, its value at present lies in simplifying and streamlining the shopping process.

“Roughly half of consumers are very interested in solutions that take the uncertainty out of shopping — whether that’s knowing that an item is in stock or getting accurate information on prices and reviews,” the NRF report noted.

“And ability to address these needs is already shaping consumers’ decisions on the brands and retailers they shop. These more tactical needs currently outweigh the interest in more personalized or engaging experiences. That is not to say that personalization or retail-tainment is not a differentiating factor for shoppers, but retailers first have to deliver on the basics.”