Consumers Open to Emerging Tech

But it might not be the draw that retailers think

Author: Krista Garcia

February 28, 2018

Retailers often feel pressure to reinvent the shopping experience. But are consumers so easily swayed by bells and whistles?

Somewhat, according to a November 2017 Episerver survey of internet users in the US and Western Europe. The software company presented a set of emerging technologies related to online shopping, and found that most respondents hadn't tried or had low levels of interest in three of the four.

A good portion of respondents (26%) said they've tried using chat for assistance, while lower numbers had used fingerprint, facial and voice recognition to log into an account. However, around a third of those polled did indicate an interest in each type of biometric login.

Biometric tech is probably most familiar to consumers as a way to access their smartphones—not necessarily an online retail account. For instance, in a September 2017 Visa survey, 65% of US internet users had used fingerprint recognition, 41% had used voice and 31% had used facial recognition at least one time. 

As far as tech in the physical world is concerned, internet users in the Episerver poll were least interested in drone deliveries, 3-D printed products and virtual/augmented reality, despite the latter category experiencing a fair amount of hype for 2018 in the retail industry. 

Sephora offers a Virtual Artist section in its app for trying on makeup or demonstrating tutorials. And high consideration, lower digital sales penetration categories like furniture and home goods are being aided by apps from Wayfair and Ikea, which help consumers visualize how a sofa or coffee table might look in a room.

It may be harder to imagine that type of tech helping in a retail setting, compared with more practical and tangible offerings like tablets used—either by customers  or sales associates—to search for different colors and sizes. Or even smart mirrors for "trying on" different clothing in a dressing room, which essentially use augmented reality.

These "smart" dressing rooms might have legs. A December 2017 survey of internet users across the globe by iVend Retail discovered that after autopayment for digital shopping carts, virtual dressing rooms ranked highest for desired emerging tech, cited by nearly one-quarter of respondents. Biometric logins and payments as well as augmented/virtual reality also made decent showings, at 19.8% and 19.7%, respectively.