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SOTI Survey Reveals What Will Get Shoppers Back Into Stores

Retailers need to give the people what they want—and for one group of consumers, that means in-store tech.

One in three U.S. shoppers could be coaxed back into a store, provided it featured retail technology that enhanced the visit, a new study has found.

Of the American shoppers surveyed SOTI Inc.’s third-annual “State of Mobility in Retail” report, nearly one-third (30.6 percent) said they would be more likely to shop in a store with a superior technology offering, 22.4 percent would be likely to stay in the store longer and 19.3 percent claimed they would be likely to spend more money while there.

This state of mind is unique to American shoppers, who were “the most extreme” in expressing their favorability of the idea of technology as a provider of convenience, SOTI Inc., a business mobility and IoT technology firm, said.

“When it comes to payment options, the differences between cash and card payments didn’t differ all too much from those trends seen in Europe,” SOTI said in the report. “However, there was much more enthusiasm for delivery options, with more than 90 percent open to options that divert away from traditional in-store experiences.”

More than any other country’s shoppers, Americans were also more likely to rate a personalized shopping experience as the most important part of an in-store visit, at 20.7 percent. However, a larger percentage of Americans (32.2 percent) prioritized data security over personalization.

“Through this research, American consumers are more bullish than their European peers when it comes to personalization, but at the same time, all crave security,” Ryan Webber, senior vice president of enterprise mobility at SOTI, said in a statement. “As retailers begin to stretch the limits of what’s possible and test facial recognition technology and other IoT shopping solutions, privacy must remain in the forefront.”

To that point, Americans were much more likely to respond with excitement when asked about the aforementioned facial recognition and beacon technology solutions. While 27.8 percent of U.S. consumers were turned off by this idea, 48.1 percent approved. The next-highest rating for the same technologies came from Sweden, which recorded 37.5 percent approval.

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It was much the same story for voice recognition technology, as a little more than half of U.S. consumers reported being “very comfortable” with the idea of voice-activated virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Home. More U.S. consumers had not heard of the technology (26.8 percent) than were not comfortable with it (22.6 percent). Meanwhile, shoppers in the U.K., Germany and Sweden all reported net negative approval.

U.S. shoppers were also more receptive to delivery drones than any other region in the survey at 37.5 percent—including the possibility of delivery of larger packages via autonomous vehicles, which collected 29.7 percent approval.

However, the firm did note that American’s opinions of these delivery options had not changed year-over-year.

“Innovation in delivery is business-critical for retailers who want to effectively compete in the retail landscape that merges online and offline buying,” Webber added. “Whether it’s the ability to transparently track packages, reduce delivery times or improve last-mile delivery, we continue to remain excited about how mobility can support transportation and logistics to ultimately convert into increased customer loyalty and sales.”

In 2019, SOTI’s Annual Connected Retailer Survey revealed that U.S. consumers were increasingly more likely to engage in retail technology like self-service devices compared to previous years. In 2017, 10.6 of consumers surveyed were in favor of self-service technology. By 2019, that number had increased to 73 percent.