A global study has highlighted the huge disconnect between retailers and consumers and the role of new technologies in the shopping experience.
The cold truth? People do not want to speak to robots while shopping in-store or online.
This was among the findings of a study conducted by Oracle NetSuite in partnership with Wakefield Research and retail consulting firm The Retail Doctor.
The study of 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the US, UK and Australia found a huge disconnect between shopper demands and what retailers deliver in areas spanning the overall retail environment, social media, personalization and the use of advanced technologies such as chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR).
According to the study, 79 percent of retail executives believe chatbots are meeting consumer needs.
Two-thirds of consumers (66 percent), however, disagree, saying that chatbots are currently more damaging to the shopping experience than helpful.
“These findings point to a clear and urgent need for better customer service,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO, The Retail Doctor. “No retailer wants their customers to be confused or anxious, yet more than half of respondents have felt that way while shopping.”
There are other gaps that point to the conclusion that retailers and consumers are not on the same page.
The study reveals that 80 percent of retail executives believe that consumers would feel more welcome if in-store staff interacted with them more. Less than half (46 percent) of consumers agree, with 28 percent noting they would feel more annoyed.
More than half (58 percent) of consumers are also uncomfortable with the way stores use technology to improve personalization in their shopping experience and almost half (45 percent) reported negative emotions when they receive personalized offers online.
Nearly all (90 percent) retail executives are not confident the use of advanced technologies to customize the shopping experience is meeting consumers’ needs.
But 79 percent of retailer executives believe having AI and VR in stores will increase sales. Only 14 percent of consumers believe the technologies will have a significant impact on their purchase decisions.
Almost all (98 percent) retail executives believe AI and VR will increase foot traffic; 48 percent of consumers do not think VR or AI would have any impact on how likely they are to go into a store.
“Despite significant investments in enhancing the customer experience online and in-store, retailers are not able to keep up with rapidly changing customer expectations and this is creating a huge disconnect,” the study noted.