A third of US consumers more likely to return if store is tech-heavy

A report from SOTI said most shoppers want retailers to improve in-store services with the latest technology.

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According to a new study from IoT management provider SOTI, shoppers are more demanding than they've ever been, with many now ardently searching for retailers offering seamless experiences that meld the familial nature of brick-and-mortar customer services with the speed and ease of online stores. 

The report, "From 'Bricks to Clicks': Navigating the Retail Revolution," found that one in three Americans are more likely to come back to a retailer if they are provided with some amount of in-store technology.

"Preparedness is paramount and, in retail, instant results are critical. Optimizing both online and offline channels for consumers is the new normal as we move from 'bricks and mortar' to 'clicks and mortar,'" the study said.

"SOTI is seeing significant year-over-year revenue growth from this demand, as the need to effectively manage all inventory, scanners, sensors, and robots intensifies in the supply chain," the study said. 

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"Inevitably, this not only impacts revenue streams, but also workers and the overall retail environment and customer experience. The only way to get ahead of the curve is to encourage personalization from the outset; to take in what consumers are calling for and respond to it now."

SOTI commissioned the study through Arlington Research and it features surveys, done in November 2019, of 4,000 consumers living in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. 

The speed and ease of transaction

Almost 70% of respondents said they find that retailers using mobile technology do end up providing a faster shopping experience for customers, and the number reached nearly 80% in the United States. 

Half of those who spoke to Arlington Research said self-checkout kiosks improved their shopping experience while another 40% said it was at least beneficial. 

"As we enter 2020, retailers need to strike a delicate balance between innovation and privacy," said Ryan Webber, vice president of enterprise mobility at SOTI

"Through this research, American consumers are more bullish than their European peers when it comes to personalization, but at the same time, all crave security," Webber said.

"As retailers begin to stretch the limits of what's possible, and test facial recognition technology and other IoT shopping solutions, privacy must remain in the forefront."

Just 25% said they wanted retailers to go back to the days when stores were devoid of any amount of technology. 

Privacy and security concerns bubble up

Yet the desire for more in-store technology did not stop people from demanding greater data security, with more than 30% saying they were absolutely unwilling to sacrifice any personal data security just to improve their brick-and-mortar experience.

The report also touched on delivery methods now that a significant amount of business is done through online orders.

Nearly 90% of respondents said they were happy with at least one or more delivery options outside of traditional in-store transactions. 

About half of all respondents said they were comfortable with home deliveries and in-store collections. 

Other technologies like autonomous vehicle delivery, at 27%, and delivery drones, at 31.4%, would be welcomed, according to the survey respondents.

Checkout speeds key

One of the biggest problems customers across the world felt could be addressed by the latest retail technology was the speed of checkouts.

Almost 80% of U.S. respondents said they wanted retailers to implement mobile technology for both consumers and sales associates so that the shopping experience could be sped up significantly.

More than 40% of U.S. consumers said they no longer wanted to stand in lines and checkout with cash registers, opting instead for sales associates using mobile devices. 

The study described a number of differences in how shoppers in all four countries view different types of technologies retailers are now turning to.

Personalization preferred

More than any other country, U.S. citizens in the survey said they prioritized a personalized retailer experience that could automatically take into account their previous preferences.

Nearly half of all US citizens in the survey and almost 40% of those from Sweden said they are excited for retail innovations like facial recognition and beacon technology. Both Germany and the UK came in around 30%. 

The same goes for voice-activated shopping experiences with assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which more than half of all U.S. respondents said they were comfortable with. No other country had more than 36%.

Half of all Swedish respondents told Arlington that they believed scan-as-you-shop technology would improve their in-store shopping experience. More than two-thirds of all respondents, regardless of country, said mobile technology was effective at providing a streamlined, faster shopping experience. 

"Innovation in delivery is business-critical for retailers that want to effectively compete in the retail landscape that merges online and offline buying," Webber said. 

"Whether it's the ability to transparently track packages, reduce delivery times or improve last-mile delivery, we continue to remain excited about how mobility can support transportation and logistics to ultimately convert into increased customer loyalty and sales."

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