Consumers Crave Retail Technology to Enhance the Shopping Experience

By: Jeff Bertolucci| - Leave a comment

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Consumers want retail technology that personalizes and simplifies their shopping trips. They’re embracing mobile apps, with many shoppers adopting the click-and-collect model: Buy online, pick up in store. But still others would rather not interact with a salesperson at all, if possible.

A recent survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), an industry trade association, suggests the right mix of retail technology can help lure consumers back to brick-and-mortar stores.

More Tech, Please

The February 2017 survey of 1,022 U.S. adults shows consumers want more tech integrated into their shopping experience.

“Our study shows that consumers are calling for access to more information in stores,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, in a statement. “The retailers who innovate in this area, making the experience more efficient and the consumer better informed, will win at the register.”

This finding matters to retailers struggling to adjust to changing consumer behavior — especially with the migration to online shopping driving a rash of store and mall closures across the U.S., as reported recently by Business Insider.

App Appeal

Mobile-oriented tech innovation creates myriad opportunities for retailers to reach and retain consumers. For instance, 71 percent of shoppers have one or more retailer apps on their phones, and 74 percent access these apps at least once a week, the ICSC survey found.

While app appeal is strong among young adults, it’s also widely popular across most age groups: 86 percent of millennials access a retailer app weekly, compared with 74 percent of the Generation Xers and 61 percent of Baby Boomers.

A mash-up of online and physical shopping skews younger, the survey found: 87 percent of millennials use their mobile devices to make click-and-collect purchases, as do 79 percent of Gen Xers.

Not every mobile tech innovation is popular among consumers, however. Just 37 percent of respondents reported using a digital assistant, such as Apple’s Siri, to build shopping lists, place orders or pick up items in stores. Similarly, roughly one in three shoppers have used a mobile pay option like Apple Pay.

Getting Personal in Retail Technology

Consumers want a personalized shopping experience and seek out retailers that deliver customized results. In fact, 80 percent of respondents with mall or shopping-center apps said they receive notifications about sales, promotions or special events while shopping.

Other key findings on personalized shopping include:

  • 44 percent of respondents want easy mobile access to information on product ingredients for allergies, dietary needs and health concerns.
  • 43 percent are receptive to personalized pricing based on their shopping patterns and demographics.
  • 39 percent would visit a shopping center more often if they received store alerts on products that interest them.
  • 62 percent want the ability to access store products without having to engage a salesperson.

So, retailers are rapidly adopting new technologies to meet consumers’ changing shopping habits. Memory Mirror, for instance, allows shoppers at some Neiman Marcus locations to create eight-second, 360-degree video clips they can email to their mobile contacts for a second opinion on clothing items they’re interested in buying.

New shopping technologies present IT challenges, however, as retailers work to create a secure, streamlined experience that incorporates mobile apps and payments, digital signage and Internet of Things-based sensors. The hard work may pay off, though.

“Through closely understanding the wants and needs of shoppers, retailers can drive more store visits and create a stronger bond,” McGee notes.

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About The Author

Jeff Bertolucci

News Writer

Jeff Bertolucci is a Los Angeles-based journalist specializing in technology, digital media, and education. His work has appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, InformationWeek, PCWorld, Macworld, The Saturday Evening Post, The Los Angeles Times and many other publications.