Automation complements in-store human assistance

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More than half of young shoppers are comfortable with the idea of automated technologies and would visit robot-driven stores, while those over the age of 55 are apprehensive about this trend, new research revealed.

Mindtree, a global digital transformation and technology services company, has released the findings of a study titled ‘Sixth Sense of Retail’ on how rapidly evolving digital trends like social media, mobile applications and automation are reshaping the way retailers engage with customers. 

The study, which was based on a survey of 2,000 consumers across the UK by independent polling company Censuswide, identified widely diverse shopper preferences across age and gender pertaining to new retail technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and robotics. It showed that 51% of those between the ages of 16 and 24 are happy to shop in automated stores whereas 78% of shoppers over the age of 55 claimed that they would be apprehensive about doing so. Additionally, opinions were divided by gender with 44 per cent of men happy with a robotic shopping experience, compared with just 30 per of women.

In order to address this sharp divide retailers should adopt a balanced mix of technology and human assistance to accommodate customers of different ages and genders.

The study also states that there is a growing demand for retailers to deliver more personalised experiences with nearly one in five of 16-24 year olds asking for more personalised engagement from retailers throughout the purchasing cycle. 
The influence of social media on shopping decisions was also highlighted, with Facebook being reaffirmed as the most influential.  Retailers therefore need to harness social media channels to drive brand loyalty by harvesting the growing volumes of customer data available across multi-channels.

“This study showcases the stark contrasts in consumer preference across both age and gender towards automation within retail stores” said Paul Gottsegen, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Mindtree. “The retailers who can most successfully navigate the right balance of robotics, and other automated store activity will be in the best position to drive more in-store shopping purchase conversion”.

Anil Gandharve, Associate Vice President of Retail, CPG and Manufacturing, Mindtree said “The retail industry has an exciting future ahead, but the key to success will be driven by the right balance between technology and in-store human experience. Additionally, retailers need to harness personalised customer information available through social media and mobile phone apps, to develop more impactful customer relationships.”