Emerging Technologies from a Shopper Point of View
This month, First Insight published an interesting study on the evolving in-store technology customer experience and the mindset of the modern consumer.
Following are some surprising shopper insights on the use of technology in retail stores.
Emerging Technologies Challenges
Virtual dressing rooms (where you can see how clothes will look on you without actually trying them on) may be coming to more stores soon. However, when consumers were asked if they would prefer a traditional dressing room versus a virtual dressing room, nearly 60% of respondents preferred a traditional dressing room.
Beacon technology is one of the most talked about innovations in retail technology today, but consumer awareness of the technology and its benefits is still low, as 70% of respondents don’t know what a beacon is.
Facial recognition technology is fighting an uphill battle, with more than 75% of respondents revealing they would not shop at a store that used facial recognition technology for marketing purposes. However, discounts might be the key to turning consumer perception around, as the number dropped to 55% when respondents knew there would be a benefit associated with it.
Despite the digital age, print ads remain relevant to Baby Boomers. But email is still #1 for those who are 50 or younger. Print ads still key for promotional items for 50+ and 40% of this group identified it as how they receive their promotional materials.
Put Down the Phone: Respondents Don’t Want Texts Only 2% of millennials want brands to contact them via text for promotional materials; 0% for 69+.
More than 40% of millennial respondents considered price the most important factor when purchasing an apparel item.
Social Media Woes: More than 60% of respondents never interact with a retailer’s social media platforms while shopping in-store.
Customers Lean on Customer Service Representatives: More than 40% of respondents will ask a customer service representative if they can’t find their preferred size or color.
How will you be paying? Consumers say Credit Nearly 70% of Traditionalists (69+) pay for retail purchases via credit card.
Technology Cycles Take Time
For technologists engaged in the development of above solutions, now is not the time to stress. Retail is typically a laggard in new technology adoption cycles.
My favorite industry example on the length of time it takes a new retail technology to scale is UPC scanning. The bar code was invented in 1952. Its first commercial use was in 1966. The first item scanned in a retail store was a pack of Wrigley chewing gum in a Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The date was June 26, 1974, a full 22 years after the bar code was invented.
Even with technology cycles accelerating, above consumer data and the evolution of bar code scanning are great reminders that technology cycles take time.
The Keys to Technological Success
While there is no guarantee that the current emerging retail technologies will scale, following are three simple rules for dramatically increasing the potential of their success.
- Focus on the problem you are trying to solve, not the technology.
- If you work in retail, always remember that the customer experience in the store is supreme. Technology adoption is directly proportional to the positive impact on the retail customer experience.
- Emerging technologies will always have limitations, especially if they are scaled too fast. Incremental value solution layering is the formula to success.
Do believe that multiple of the technologies where consumers may still be skeptical will deliver major value to the growth of the retail industry. Focusing on the problem, enhancing the customer experience, and delivering layered value added emerging solutions are the keys to technology deployment success.