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Consumers’ Willingness to Use In-Store Tech Outstrips Retailers’ Adoption

Consumers are tech happy—and happy to use tech in store if it means a better shopping experience.

This year’s Annual Connected Retailer Survey from mobility and IoT experts at SOTI makes it clear that consumers are more interested in mobile technology and in-store innovation than in the past.

The survey, conducted with 576 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 6o, explored attitudes towards digital innovations in physical retail spaces. Based on the SOTI study, mobile engagement in brick-and-mortar stores will only be more important over time.

In 2018, 76 percent of consumer respondents indicated that retailers that utilize mobile technology enable a quicker shopping experience. That perception was only at 67 percent last year. Those stats include both self-service devices and technology used by sales associates, which is a vital tip for retailers considering arming employees on the floor with handheld inventory management devices and the like.

“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,” said Shash Anand, VP of product strategy at SOTI. “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.”

Consumers are more than happy to use in-store technologies on their own, too. Nearly three quarters of respondents, 73 percent, were in favor of self-service technologies to improve the retail shopping experience, up 10.6 percent from 2017.

The checkout process will be a crucial place to deploy self-service options moving forward. Among new in-store technologies, mobile registers saw the most growth between 2017 and 2018, at 64 percent. The number of retailers who don’t utilize any mobile technology dropped by 62 percent in the same period.

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There’s also strong consumer interest in new technologies that optimize shipping practices. The survey reveals that 64 percent of consumers expressed that they would be comfortable with new shipping methods offered by retailers, and significantly more than ever before indicated they’d be comfortable with shipping practices that don’t involve human interaction.

The segment of consumers who were comfortable with companies using drones in shipping was 37 percent, an increase of 28.8 percent since last year; for driverless vehicles, the number was 35.5 percent, an increase of 26.96 percent.

“Mobile technology and IoT devices afford the opportunity to make these distribution methods a reality,” Anand said. “We expect to see retailers adopt more modern solutions to meet consumers innovative demands.”