The use of robotics in retail outlets and grocery stores is on the rise as companies look to offset the menial tasks done by employees with robot helpers.
However, while most consumers are open to the idea of robots delivering packages to their door, consumers are not excited at all about the prospect of interacting with helper robots or chatbots while shopping, according to a new survey conducted by Oracle NetSuite in partnership with Wakefield Research.
Most robots in food stores are being used for things such as shelf scanning, floor cleaning and identifying potential hazards in stores like liquid, powder or bulk food item spills. But in retail outlets, robots are being tested for use as promoters, administrators, guides and concierges in businesses.
According to the Oracle NetSuite survey, only 5% of respondents want robots or chatbots to assist with shopping. Instead, consumers want self-checkout kiosks, virtual reality try-on and mobile payments.
The poll results indicate that retailers looking to expand their businesses while cutting costs and providing consumers with next-generation technology may not line up exactly with consumer expectations because these vary from person-to-person and from moment-to-moment. What is applicable for one person, could be the complete opposite for another consumer.
This variability in consumer expectations and preferences makes innovating in the retail space incredibly difficult on one hand, but on the other hand it provides an opportunity for retailers to improve relationships with consumers as technology evolves.
The survey, which asked 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives about the overall retail environment in-store and online, indicates that consumers may not desire other technologies either. While 79% of retailers believe having virtual reality and artificial intelligence in stores will increase sales, only 14% of consumers think these technologies will have an impact on purchase decisions.
Similarly, 98% of retail executives think VR and AI will increase foot traffic, while less than half of consumers think it would impact their decision to enter a store or not.
The survey also showed that while online shopping is more popular than ever, the physical store will not be going away. Nearly all consumers polled said there is a need to go to a physical store to purchase items and 70% said they prefer a simplified and streamlined shopping experience. This includes options consistent with online offerings, simpler store layouts, staff orders on mobile devices and in-store kiosks.