Sep 13 2019

Retail Technology Creates a Need for Speed

Customers are increasingly demanding technologies that make the shopping experience faster and more convenient.

The personal touch has long been a cornerstone of good customer service. By interacting with shoppers on a human level, store associates can make customers feel valued, help them find what they need and engage in a little upselling in the process. 

But now, with the advent of new forms of retail technology, consumers seem less interested in receiving personal attention and are prioritizing simply getting into and out of stores quickly with the things they need. 

According to the 2019 Annual Connected Retailer Survey from mobile and Internet of Things management solutions provider SOTI, “consumers desire technology that enables a quicker and more convenient in-store shopping experience with limited human interaction,” said Shash Anand, vice president of product strategy, in a press release.

“These results prove the critical role that mobile technology plays in reducing many of the challenges of the seamless customer experience through solutions that reduce cost, complexity and downtime in a secured for mobile, yet accessible fashion,” he added.

“In an era where mobility can be taken to endless possibilities, retailers need to evolve beyond traditional mobile technology management to capitalize on new customer expectations quickly and efficiently."

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Learn how grocers are using technology to change how customers buy food.

Retail Customers Want More Mobile, Handheld Solutions

According to SOTI’s survey, 85.3 percent of consumers are in favor of handheld or fixed devices to check inventory and prices, a 51 percent increase from a year before. Additionally, 41.7 percent say they’re in favor of mobile register solutions (a 64.3 percent spike over the year before), and 22.3 percent say they’re in favor of retailers using handheld devices to communicate with the back room (a 29.7 percent year-over-year increase). 

Only 13.3 percent of shoppers say they’re not in favor of stores deploying new retail technologies — a drop of 62.2 percent from the previous year. 


New Tech for Shopping and Shipping Not Frequently Used

The survey also touched on emerging tech solutions for ordering and shipping. While virtual assistants have the potential to change the way people shop, SOTI’s survey revealed that only 25 percent of consumers with a virtual assistant have used it for voice-activated shopping. 

And while the portion of customers comfortable with new shipping solutions in general has grown, fewer than half say they’re comfortable with retailers and transportation companies using drones (37.1 percent) or autonomous vehicles (35.5 percent). 

Overall, said Anand, the report’s findings highlight the need for retailers to implement and support tech solutions that will simplify customers’ shopping experiences. 

“Retailers need to invest in platforms that provide a holistic mobile experience — from the ability to build mobile apps, that are both consumer- and sales associate-facing, manage critical processes, to being able to quickly troubleshoot devices on the floor to reduce downtime, and ultimately customer frustration,” he said.

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