All over the world, stores are investing money in new technologies and innovative experiences. Things like virtual equipment, biometric payments and QR codes require significant investments and aim to be the future of the customer experience. But do customers really want all this new technology in their shopping experiences?
Not necessarily. According to a new survey, most buyers want less technology built into their shopping experience or to stay the same. Only 30% of consumers want more technology when it comes to buying.
What does this mean for brands?
Customers are slowly adopting the technology in the store
Retailers may think that new technology is the future. Many customers claim to want technology in their shopping experiences, but are slow to adopt it when it actually applies.
Technology adoption is even more contrasted if broken down by generations. 45% of Millennials have used a virtual equipment room, compared to 2% of Boomers, while 42% of Gen-Zs have used augmented reality during shopping, compared to 19% of Gen- X and 1% of Boomers.
The shopping technology that seems commonplace now, including automatic checking, took years to be accepted by customers. Now that automatic checking is common in most grocery stores and department stores, 70% of consumers say it facilitates the shopping experience. The same will happen with the new wave of shopping technology.
Amazon pioneered fully automated payment with its Amazon Go store in 2016, but the technology has taken years to become widespread. There are dozens of Amazon cashless stores today, and fully automated payment has expanded to many other prominent retailers, including Walmart, Kroger, and numerous restaurants. But it took a well-known name on Amazon and years for the company to get to that point.
A balanced approach to technology
While retailers shouldn’t stop adding technology completely to their stores and shopping experiences, they could benefit from a more measured approach. Pursuing technology simply because it is new and bright can create an overwhelming and chaotic experience for customers.
The best technology applications meet the needs of the customer to provide comfortable and fluid experiences. There needs to be a strategic reason to adopt new technologies, aside from the desire to be an early adopter.
In a postcovid world, more customers will buy again in person. The most important reasons why customers want technology in their face-to-face shopping experience are to save money and ensure security, with an impressive 87% of Americans now prefer to shop at stores with untouched payment options. Customers also want the personalization and comfort that can be derived from in-store technology.
And just because customers aren’t as enthusiastic about in-store technology doesn’t mean there’s no demand for omnichannel retail that blurs the line between online shopping and factories.
So while customers claim they don’t want as much technology, stores shouldn’t stop adding technology. It’s about adding the right technology for customers, showing their value, and accepting that customers will take a long time to adapt.
Technology-driven shopping experiences can still be the future, as long as they are strategic and have roots to better serve customers.
Blake Morgan is a futuristic customer experience, lead speaker and author of the best-selling book The customer of the future. Subscribe to their weekly newsletter here.