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What 59% of Klarna’s Study Group Says About Robots in Retail

The AI revolution is under way, and according to Klarna, consumers are itching to see it take shape.

The digital payment provider’s new research shows that shoppers believe artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) have much bigger roles to play in the way they browse, buy and try on clothing both in-store and online.

For the “Retail Revolution” report published Tuesday, Klarna queried over 5,000 consumers across five countries, teaming up with British business consultant and “Customer Whisperer” Kate Hardcastle MBE to probe the possibilities for tech-enabled retail. They found that personalization will be key to current and future success, with 65 percent of shoppers saying they want customized shopping experiences.

More than one-third of shoppers believe retail will find a way to deliver on their changing interests using tools like virtual try-on. Just over half of respondents said they believe they will continue to try on clothes as usual while 48 percent want to use virtual dressing rooms. Shoppers said they’re also ready to embrace robot fashion advisors and personal shoppers—provided they make a good first impression. Most (59 percent) said they’d be fine with a robot approaching them in a store setting to take their measurements and recommend styles, though 18 percent said their openness depends on how the robot looks and behaves.

Others believe that AR (28 percent) and AI (23 percent) will play an integral part in their decision-making journey by providing recommendations for both fit and style. More than one-third said they want access to AI-driven assistance with online shopping, which could offer time-saving suggestions and curations that fit their aesthetic.

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Klarna’s recent OpenAI partnership focuses on creating an integrated ChatGPT plugin that aims to do just that, according to Klarna co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski. The easy-to-use plugin—“it passes my ‘north star’ criteria that I call my ‘mom test’, i.e. would my mom understand and benefit from this”—“genuinely solves a ton of problems” and “drives tremendous value for everyone,” he said. The plugin allows users to prompt the AI chatbot to surface recommendations from across the web using open-ended prompts like, “a gift for my niece,” and then refines its searches as the user reacts to its findings.

The Klarna plugin for ChatGPT allows users to leverage the tool's search power for shopping advice.

“In the western world, approximately 80 percent of all online purchases are made through search, while the remaining 20 percent are based on personalized recommendations,” chief marketing officer David Sandström said, adding that by contrast, 80 percent of online purchases are driven by personalized recommendations in China.

“This study confirms that shoppers in the western world desire a comparable shopping experience,” he said.

Klarna has been working to position its platform as a starting point for product discovery, taking into account purchase history data as it serves up possibilities for shoppers. “The next generation of consumers will expect a highly personalized shopping experience where products find them instead of the other way around,” Sandström said.

While consumers are expecting to see big progress from e-commerce, most (81 percent) believe that AR has the greatest potential to elevate brick-and-mortar. In fact, 37 percent are confident that the technology will eventually become a mainstay at physical retail. More than two-fifths (43 percent) of Gen Z shoppers believe that virtual reality (VR) will come to surpass the in-person experience within the next 20 years. Checkout is an area also ripe for evolution, with 64 percent of Gen Z and millennial respondents saying they believe most physical stores will be cash-free within the next 18 years. Thirty-one percent believe the shift will take place in just five years.

Hardcastle said that retail and shopping trends have “evolved significantly” in the past decade. “Technologies like augmented reality have the potential to transform rundown physical shops and revamp the in-store experience for shoppers,” she said. But “seamless technology must be at the heart” of developing more personalized and enticing shopping experiences.

ChatGPT sees its technology taking root. “The biggest change for consumers when they shop in 2041 will likely be the widespread use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, allowing them to virtually try on products and experience them before making a purchase,” it said. “Additionally, personalized recommendations based on their past behavior and preferences will become even more accurate and prevalent, making shopping experiences more efficient and tailored to individual needs.”