Retailers Are Failing to Meet Consumer Expectations on In-Store Technology, Survey Reveals
The implementation of in-store retail technologies is lagging far behind consumer expectations surrounding these new tools, according to a new A.T. Kearney report.
The survey on which the report was based polled 1,000 people from various demographic and economic backgrounds about emerging retail technologies used in physical stores, and focused on five crucial technologies:
- augmented reality;
- mobile point of sale;
- cashierless checkout;
- interactive screens; and
- 3D printing for customizable products.
The findings revealed that retailers have considerable work to do — and in many cases an opportunity — to meet these rapidly evolving consumer expectations. “When it comes to in-store technologies, U.S. consumers have heard all the promises but are still waiting on retailers to deliver,” says the report, titled “Retailers Are Ignoring Consumer Expectations Around Retail Technology.”
The survey revealed four crucial observations. Let’s take a look at each.
The Targeted Technologies Aren’t Widely Available
While three out of four respondents were aware of at least one of the targeted retail technologies, only one in three reported experiencing a single one in their shopping experiences.
For example, 45 percent of respondents said they had heard of augmented reality but never experienced it in a store. The results were similar for the other technologies: 60 percent for 3D printing, 40 percent for mobile point of sale, 36 percent for cashierless checkout, and 30 percent for interactive screens.
Big-Box Retailers Have Led in Retail Tech, But Consumers Expect Specialty Shops to Catch Up
Forty-five percent of respondents reported visiting a big-box store because of technology, compared with 24 percent who said they had visited specialty stores because of technology.
However, 58 percent of consumers expect retail technology to affect their specialty store choices in the future, nearly catching up to big-box stores and presenting specialty retailers with a significant opportunity.
Specialty Consumers Value Experience, While Big-Box Consumers Value Convenience
Big-box consumers clearly value convenience over novelty, with 41 percent of respondents saying technologies associated with convenience had influenced their visit to a big-box store vs. only 13 percent who cited technology associated with novelty as an attraction.
The survey indicates that service is key for specialty consumers, who are more likely to be influenced by customization and experience than big-box shoppers.
When asked which types of retail technology would be most likely to influence their shopping choices, respondents indicated that customization and experience were more important in a specialty store than in a big-box store, while limited interaction and time savings were more important in a big-box store than a specialty store.
Consumers Want to Save Time In-Store, Nut Only on Certain Shopping Activities
When asked what retail technologies they desire most, respondents were most interested in solutions that saved time. Seventy-two percent of respondents cited technologies that reduce checkout time, while 61 percent said they were interested in solutions that allowed them to spend less time navigating the store.
However, the data suggests consumers aren’t ready to completely abandon stores. Only 21 percent of respondents said technologies that reduce trial and sampling time were important to their shopping experience, the lowest response in the survey.
“Combined with the consumer interest in customization and novel experience, this presents retailers with a significant opportunity to drive foot traffic through enhanced trial and sampling experiences in-store,” the report says.
What Retailers Need to Do
Ultimately, retailers have to make hard choices about which technologies they invest in and the size of those investments. A.T. Kearney’s report offers eight steps retailers of all types can take to bridge the gap between technologies and consumer expectations. Download a full copy of the report here.
Suketu Gandhi is a partner in the Digital Transformation Practice and Christine Ducommun is a manager in the Consumer Industries and Retail Practice of A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm.
Related story: 2019 Retail Technology Report