Technology Key Focus for Retail Customer Experience Improvements; Consumers Are Embracing the Connected Retail Experience

RetailTechNews’ weekly roundup brings you up-to-date research findings from around the world. In this week’s edition: Technology key focus for retail customer experience improvements; Consumers are embracing the connected retail experience; and are consumers ready to go cashless?

Technology Key Focus for Retail Customer Experience Improvements

More than half (53%) of retailers will focus on using technology to improve the shopping experience in 2018, according to research by Zynstra.

The focus on technology in the New Year is especially relevant given that currently only 27% of retailers feel their infrastructure is fully able to support these plans to improve customer experience in-store. Only one-quarter of retailers said their in-store IT allowed them to frequently and regularly improve their in-store experience; and one-fifth said they had to delay or reject a past roll out of new in-store applications because of IT limitations, costs, or concerns.

In addition, the research uncovered that virtualisation of point-of-sale systems is playing an increasingly important role. Almost a quarter (23%) of retailers said they were using it already, while 26% said they would adopt it as soon as possible, and 21% said they would do so in the next two years.

Additional priorities for 2018 were identified as enhancing security and compliance of in-store IT (42%), in-store innovation (34%), mitigating the risk of end-of-life technology (27%), and incorporating all channels of engagement in a single platform (17%).

Consumers Are Embracing the Connected Retail Experience

Consumers are embracing the connected retail experience, from in-store interactions to in-home delivery, finds a study by SOTI. The study also shows that consumers are increasingly gravitating towards retailers that provide time-saving technology solutions.

According to the data, 66% of shoppers prefer self-service technology over interacting with a retail sales associate, and 77% of consumers would feel very or somewhat comfortable in a retail setting where only self-checkout was offered.

When it comes to different types of self-service technology, self-checkout is by far the most preferred solution with 53% favouring the technology, followed by digital kiosks/scanners to enable price checks, coming in at a distant second (23%).

Consumers are starting to warm up to in-home delivery services, too. Six-in-ten (60%) say they would be very or somewhat comfortable with new shipping methods offered by retailers, including drones (29%), autonomous vehicles (28%), and in-home delivery methods (33%).

Are Consumers Ready to Go Cashless?

Consumers aren’t necessarily ready for a cashless society, finds research by CivicScience. On one hand, a few consumers (10%) said they would actually go to their favourite restaurant more often if it went cashless – mostly because they rarely carry any cash with them. On the other hand, almost as many respondents (11%) said they would go less because they prefer to pay with cash. And another 15% indicated they would stop going to the restaurant altogether if it no longer accepted cash.

The findings also show that nearly three in 10 respondents (29%) who frequent fast-food restaurants, like McDonald’s and KFC, say they would increase their visits if those places went cashless. However, over two-fifths (42%) of fast-food restaurant customers said they would go less, or halt trips entirely.

However, the move to a cashless society may be happening whether consumers like it or not. Recently, Starbucks announced it was piloting a new programme at its downtown Seattle location, where it wouldn’t accept cash as a form of payment. What’s more, earlier this week, Amazon officially opened its cashierless convenience store, ‘Amazon Go’, where shoppers scan the Amazon Go app on their way into the store, grab whatever they want, and are automatically charged for items without having to wait in line or use a card.