Consumers are eager to embrace connected devices and automation; however, they remain wary of the Internet of Things (IoT), security breaches and their long-term effects. People want the ease and accessibility that automation can provide but want assurance that there are protocols and security measures in place before they fully adopt these practices.
Optimistic for Automation
People are generally optimistic about advancements in automation and the ability they have to make everyday life easier. To achieve the convenience they crave, consumers are looking for technology that’s integrated into everyday objects, such as a chatbot to help them shop or a drone that delivers packages to their houses. This automation allows consumers to all but ignore menial tasks that technology takes care of.
According to Worldpay’s 2017 Connected Consumer Report, 35 percent of consumers would “probably” or “definitely” allow a virtual assistant to complete simple tasks for them, while 48 percent would allow their refrigerator to make purchases for them to save time. As a result, consumers’ devices could eventually be making sales for retailers in and out of their homes.
Millennials proved to be the most accepting of IoT in the home, with 62 percent saying they would be comfortable with connected devices. This is likely due to the fact that this generation has grown up with more technological advancements than any other generation. Although millennials are the most comfortable with automation, U.S. consumers as a whole are fairly optimistic when it comes to the integration of IoT. In fact, half of U.S. consumers can see the benefits and convenience of using connected devices in their homes. Since most consumers are interested to see the development of automation, retailers shouldn’t have to worry about isolating a certain demographic when adopting new technology.
The Cost of Convenience
Consumers are generally excited by the prospect of IoT, but they have reservations about adoption. People want the convenience of IoT without risking payment and personal information. Although 55 percent of consumers interviewed by Worldpay would be happy to let a chatbot or virtual assistant shop for them, only 37 percent would allow chatbots to access their payment information. Nearly three out of four consumers were also concerned with the prospect of connected devices being hacked and that manufacturers would share their personal data. If consumers are concerned about their data, adoption rates will suffer until they’re certain their information is safe with this technology.
Not only are consumers worried about the potential security problems that come with IoT and automation, but also the implications on society. Nearly half of all surveyed consumers are afraid a robot will replace their job, for example. Instead, to ease consumers’ worries, manufacturers will have to work together to ensure that robots and other IoT devices make people’s jobs easier.
Some consumers also struggle with the technology’s usability and question if they actually need it. For example, 54 percent of consumers admitted they don’t understand why devices like refrigerators need to be connected to the internet. Nearly half of consumers doubt whether a virtual assistant could ever converse like a real person, and 34 percent think robots will not be useful in their lifetimes. For retailers, this means demonstrating the value in connected devices before consumers adopt them.
Setting Boundaries With IoT
Establishing regulations is incredibly important for consumers to feel comfortable using IoT. If technology is going to have the power to complete tasks for consumers, retailers need to make sure customers have ultimate authority over what technology can and cannot do. For example, more than 60 percent of surveyed consumers would want to approve every purchase before it's confirmed, and 78 percent would want a notification before the order was placed.
Many people believe strict boundaries would need to be set to prevent security breaches regarding automation. Almost 70 percent of consumers thought robots and drones would need heavy regulation, and 54 percent said they would want to establish fixed rules, such as spending limits, for connected devices that could make purchases. This means manufacturers will have to develop a set of security measures to control these devices and protect consumers in order to increase adoption rates and reach mainstream usage.
Retailers need to be aware of their customers’ needs. Automation and connected devices are new territory that leave people wary, and retailers need to assure consumers that they remain in control of their payment and private information. Doing so will help customers feel more comfortable using new technology in personal and retail spaces.
Consumers are interested in integrating IoT technology such as virtual assistants and drones into their everyday lives. However, they'll need to see the full value of these technologies and have their fears addressed before fully embracing connected devices.
Casey Bullock is the general manager, global e-commerce, North America for Worldpay, a secure payment processing company.