Holiday shoppers slow to embrace chatbots, robots
- About 58% of consumers surveyed by applet enabler IFTTT said their shopping habits change during the holiday season, according to a press release, with the majority of that group saying they shop more online during the holidays than during the rest of the year.
- However, many consumers have yet to embrace cutting-edge retail technologies, as 83% said they don’t want a robot shopping for them, although some would trust a delivery robot to bring them their online orders.
- Another 68% of respondents said they have never used a retail chatbot, and 23% don’t even know what chatbots are, according to the survey.
IFTTT noted that its survey results, which in some ways imply that shoppers aren't ready to embrace a number of new retail technologies, come as many retailers are starting to get more comfortable investing more money in the latest technology innovations.
IFTTT's discussion of its survey results linked back to a 2016 Gartner report which found that 60% of retailers were at that time increasing their technology budgets, with significant investments across personalization, social media predictive analytics and other areas. That report also projected a 53% spending increase in artificial intelligence technology among retailers by 2020.
This survey could make retailers more wary about spending that money on things like chatbots. Although, it should be noted that other studies have generated different results, and have suggested that chatbot acceptance, while slow, has been increasing.
Other findings from the IFTTT survey are more encouraging and should boost the confidence of retailers embracing virtual assistants, subscription models and other trends. For example, 36% of respondents would rather shop through a virtual assistant such as Alexa or Siri, rather than going out to a shopping mall.
Meanwhile, another 36% of shoppers surveyed said they use at least one retail subscription service (such as Stitch Fix, which recently filed for an IPO and was named one of the most disruptive companies of the year), and another 53% are interested in using such services. Other retailers, such as Old Navy and Amazon, have recently jumped aboard this trend, and we could see even more retailers moving confidently in this direction.
Finally, while the survey noted that shoppers start shopping online more around the holidays, it also found that just 34% of those surveyed actually shop more online than they do in-store. That means retailers should consider investing some of their increasing technology budgets into in-store tech to improve the brick-and-mortar experience.