Study: Stores haven’t got what customers want

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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woman with shopping bags

Retailers are lagging well behind customer preferences when it comes to in-store technology.

According to “The Future of Retail,” a new study from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 48% of customers are likely to prefer a retailer offering proximity-triggered mobile coupons within the store. Thirty-two percent of customers are likely to choose a retailer offering an augmented reality (AR) experience over one not offering it, and more than five in 10 consumers (57%) would choose a store offering an automated returns process or self-checkout with an app (55%) over a store that did not provide these technology-enabled features.

However, BRP data indicates most retailers have not yet responded to customer desires for these emerging in-store technology offerings. Only one in 10 retailers offer proximity-triggered mobile coupons within the store, and a mere 2% offer an augmented reality (AR) experience as a means of customer service. A slightly higher percentage provide self-checkout via app (14%) or an automated returns process (13%).

The study also reveals low levels of retailer adoption of other leading-edge in-store technologies, such as in-store real-time order visibility (18%), artificial intelligence (AI) such as digital assistants and chatbots (7%), and facial recognition sensors. Close to three in 10 (28%) retailers do offer an in-store product locator app (28%). 

Looking ahead, a fair number of retailers plan to implement these technologies in their stores in the next two years, with one notable exception:

•    Real-time order status visibility (41%)
•    Self-checkout app (39%)
•    Product locator app (33%)
•    Proximity-triggered mobile coupons (39%)
•    AI (50%)
•    Facial recognition sensors (2%)
•    AR (27%)
•    Automated pickup (36%)
•    Automated returns (25%)