While three-fourths of customers are familiar with new retail technology features, only one-third are experiencing them in stores, according to a recent A.T Kearney report. The survey polled 1,000 people about emerging retail technology used in brick-and-mortar stores, focusing on augmented reality, mobile point of sale, cashierless checkout, interactive screens and 3D printing.
Seventy-two percent of respondents said technology that reduced checkout time was most valuable to them, while 61% of respondents said technology that reduced the time spent navigating the store was most valuable.
Shoppers seek convenience over novelty when it comes to technology, the report found, especially at the big-box level. Forty-one percent of respondents said technology associated with convenience had prompted them to shop at a big-box store.
A.T. Kearney's report stresses the need for retail technology to focus on serving the customer rather than entertaining them. Only 13% of respondents said they went to a big-box store because of "technology associated with novelty," while 14% said they visited a specialty store for the same reason. There are differences between big-box shoppers and specialty shoppers, though. Consumers look to specialty stores for customization and experience over the time-saving technology shoppers prefer at big-box stores.
The report encourages retailers seeking to bridge the gap between customer awareness and experience to ensure that technologies meet specific consumer needs, and to pair those investments with store personnel who can work in tandem with the technology enhancements. Retailers may wish to follow the example of Sam's Club and Decathlon, to name recent examples, which have empowered their associates to serve customers throughout the store with the help of mobile checkout or apps.
Retail still has room to grow when it comes to merging technology with brick and mortar. Another recent survey from the National Retail Federation revealed that while 80% of shoppers think technology has improved their online shopping experience, only 66% said the same for in-store shopping. It's the research and review process that seems to need the most attention, according to that report. That desire to be informed before purchasing offers opportunities for retailers to integrate technology features across sales platforms, from mobile to brick and mortar.