Around the world, stores are pouring money into new technology and innovative experiences. Things like virtual fitting rooms, biometric payments and QR codes require major investments and claim to be the future of customer experience. But do customers really want all of this new technology in their shopping experiences?
Not necessarily. A new survey finds that the majority of shoppers either want less technology integrated into their shopping experience or for it to stay the same. Just 30% of consumers want more technology as they shop.
What does that mean for brands?
Customers Are Slow To Adopt In-Store Technology
Retailers may think new technology is the future. Many customers claim to want technology in their shopping experiences but are slow to adopt it when it is actually applied.
The adoption of technology is even more contrasted when broken down by generation. 45% of Millennials have used a virtual fitting room, compared to 2% of Boomers, while 42% of Gen-Z have used augmented reality while shopping, compared to 19% of Gen-X and 1% of Boomers.
Shopping technology that seems commonplace now, including self-checkout, took years to be accepted by customers. Now that self-checkout is prevalent in most grocery and big-box stores, 70% of consumers say it makes the shopping experience easier. The same will hold true for the new wave of shopping technology.
Amazon pioneered fully automated checkout with its Amazon Go store in 2016, but it has taken years for the technology to become widespread. Today, there are dozens of cashierless Amazon stores, and fully automated checkout has expanded to many other prominent retailers, including Walmart, Kroger and numerous restaurants. But it took a household name in Amazon and years for the company to get to this point.
A Balanced Approach To Technology
While retailers shouldn’t completely stop adding technology to their stores and shopping experiences, they could benefit from a more measured approach. Chasing technology simply because it’s new and shiny can create an overwhelming and chaotic experience for customers.
The best applications of technology meet customer needs to provide seamless and convenient experiences. There needs to be a strategic reason behind adopting new technology aside from the desire to be an early adopter.
In a post-Covid world, more customers will return to in-person shopping. The biggest reasons customers want tech in their in-person shopping experience is for money-saving purposes and safety, with a staggering 87% of Americans now preferring to shop in stores with touchless payment options. Customers also crave the personalization and convenience that can come from in-store technology.
And just because customers might not be as excited about in-store technology doesn’t mean there isn’t demand for omnichannel retail that blurs the line between online and brick-and-mortar shopping.
So even though customers claim to not want as much technology, stores shouldn’t necessarily stop adding technology. It’s all about adding the right technology for customers, showing its value and accepting that it will take time for customers to adapt.
Technology-driven shopping experiences can still be the future—as long as they are strategic and rooted in better serving customers.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.