Ede, September 16, 2020 - Dutch consumers are very skeptical about the use of robots in physical stores. A majority (62%) does not want to be helped by it, according to research by GfK commissioned by ShoppingTomorrow. “Consumers expect a personal experience, but they want to be confronted with technology as little as possible,” says Inge Demoed, program manager at ShoppingTomorrow.
On behalf of ShoppingTomorrow, GfK conducts research among consumers every year into their (online) shopping experiences, expectations and preferences. This year, the investigation took place in July, so still during a period when the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak were noticeable, but after the largest peak in March and April.
Robots in stores
The research shows that only 8% of Dutch consumers has ever had contact with a robot in a store. 62% says they are not open to the help of a robot, and half of the respondents do not believe they can be helped better by robots. Most consumers expect that they can be best used for cleaning the store, filling the shelves and providing product information.
The research also shows that three quarters of consumers want a personalized shopping experience in five years' time. Meanwhile, only half of consumers expect that personalized promotions and recommendations will actually be available in the Dutch retail landscape by then. “When we asked the same question last year, 62% thought that this technology would be available within five years. It therefore seems that consumers have less confidence in the rise of personalization ”, Demoed points out. Consumers are positive about personalization, although 49% is not yet comfortable with the thought of sharing personal information with stores. It is striking that 35% indicates that it wishes to receive a financial contribution for sharing data.
Consumers are generally positive about the technological developments that facilitate and improve shopping. Of all new technologies, consumers are particularly pleased with a body or foot scanner to determine the size of a product (83% positive) and about virtual reality (80%).
Mobile shopping and social media
Mobile shopping is growing fast: 66% of the Dutch web shoppers are now using a smartphone for online shopping. Almost half of them expect to make most of their online purchases via mobile by 2025. Furthermore, it appears that consumers are also increasingly using their smartphones in the physical store, especially to view social media but also to scan and pay for products.
Shopping via social media is also gaining ground, although there is still a slight increase here. One in five Dutch made a purchase via Facebook in the past year. This is a small increase compared to 2019, when it was 17%.
Online versus offline
Dutch consumers expect to make 37% of their purchases online in five years' time. The corona crisis and the accompanying impulse for online spending has therefore not led to a higher expectation of the online turnover share. Exceptions to this are the Telecom, Food / Nearfood and Health & Beauty categories. It is striking that 71% expects consumers to have only a few (online) shops in each sector in five years' time (market concentration).
If consumers need advice on purchasing a product or service, they prefer to keep going to a physical store (70% compared to 73% in 2019). And also for entering into a relationship with a store, they prefer to go to a physical shop (71%) than to a webshop (50%). It is interesting to note that the so-called showrooming is losing popularity: where 47% of consumers still viewed products in the store in 2019 and then ordered them online and have them delivered at home, this share has dropped to 41% this year.
Finally, the research shows that 81% of consumers is less likely to buy from a web store if they have to pay for the return of products. It is striking, however, that 33% declares that they are willing to pay service costs when they order a number of items online, try them out at home and then return a number of them.
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