About 73% of 526 shoppers surveyed by IoT and mobile device management firm SOTI said they prefer retail self-service technologies, such as self-checkout, over engaging with store associates, a 10.6% increase from last year.
At the same time, about 76% of respondents said retailers that use mobile technology—in the form of both self-service mobile tools and mobile tools used by sales associates— helps provide a faster shopping experience, an increase from 67% in last year’s study.
The survey also questioned consumers about voice commerce, finding that despite robust sales of devices with voice-activated virtual assistants, only 25% of consumers who own one have used it for voice-activated shopping purposes.
That shoppers may be starting to prefer self-service retail technologies is not surprising, as more retailers have begun to embrace smart, mobile and automated checkout systems. Consumers are getting more experience with such options, and they like what they see. It makes sense, especially at moments when they want to get in and out of a store in a hurry, that they would choose self-service tools over engaging with another human.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they want human store associates to go the way of the dinosaurs, however. The increasing retailer use of mobile technology, (whether in the form of self-service tools or those in the hands of store associates), suggests that consumers perhaps just like the idea of technology infusing their entire shopping experience, from engagements with store staffers right on through the self-checkout line.
In fact, SOTI compared other results of its surveys from the last two years and found that respondents to the December 2018 survey were much more in favor of stores supplying them with technology options to improve their shopping experiences than they were in the 2017 version.
For example, more than 85% of 2018 survey respondents said they liked the idea of store associates having handheld or fixed tools to help them check inventory and prices, up from 56% the previous year. Also, about 42% in 2018 said they favor mobile POS registers, up from just over 25% the year before. Shoppers are embracing in-store technology in all of its forms, and retailers should invest more confidently in these solutions as a result.
One technology application consumers don’t seem to be embracing is the use of voice-activated assistants for shopping. This survey isn’t the first market study to point that out. But, just as consumers may be starting to enjoy in-store technology, it stands to reason they may come around to using voice shopping tools as well.