Shoppers have little faith in robots

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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 this, 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 a survey among consumers every year into their (online) shopping experiences, expectations and preferences. This year, the survey took place in July, still in a period when the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak were noticeable, but after the biggest 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 these to be best used for cleaning the store, stocking shelves and providing product information.

Personalization

The research also shows that three quarters of consumers will want a personalized shopping experience in five years' time. Meanwhile, only half of consumers expect personalized promotions and recommendations to be available in the Dutch retail landscape by then. “When we asked the same question last year, 62% thought this technology would be available within five years. So it seems that consumers have less confidence in the rise of personalization," says Demoed. Consumers are positive about personalization, although 49% is not yet comfortable with the idea of sharing personal information with stores. It is striking that 35% indicates that it wishes to receive a financial compensation for sharing data.

Consumers are generally positive about technological developments that make shopping easier and better. Of all the 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 webshop press now uses a smartphone for online shopping. Nearly half of them expect to make most of their online purchases via mobile by 2025. It also appears that consumers are increasingly using their smartphone 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 has been a slight increase for the time being. One in five Dutch people made a purchase via Facebook in the past year. This is a small increase compared to 2019, when it was still 17%.

Online vs Offline

Dutch consumers expect 37% of their purchases to be made online in five years. The corona crisis and the accompanying impulse for online spending have 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 from consumers that in five years' time there will only be a few (online) shops left in each sector (market concentration).

If consumers need advice about the purchase of a product or service, they prefer to continue 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 see that the so-called showrooming is losing popularity: while 47% of consumers viewed products in stores in 2019 and then ordered them online and had them delivered at home, this share has fallen to 41% this year.

Finally, the research shows that 81% of consumers is less likely to buy from an online store if they have to pay for the return of products. It is striking, however, that 33% declares that it is willing to pay service costs when the person orders a number of items online, tries them out at home and then returns a number of them.

Download the full ShoppingTomorrow Consumer Survey here

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