Consumers want retail tech that keeps human touch

A survey by SOTI shows that Canadians favour solutions that empower sales staff, not replace them.

Canadian consumers are eager to have technology improve the experience in store, but they would rather it be done in a way that maintains the human interaction they can get with staff.

That’s according to a survey of Canadian shoppers conducted by SOTI, which provides solutions for managing mobile technology and IoT devices.

There is demand for more technology in-store, with 62% of consumers in favour of using self-serve technologies like kiosks, digital signage and self-checkout to improve in-store shopping experience. However, 78% are in favour of giving technology to sales associates to improve their shopping experience instead. When it comes to specific tech, 75% prefer handheld or fixed devices to check inventory availability and prices, while only 34% favour mobile devices that allow them to purchase inventory on the sales floor.

In either case, 64% of respondents felt they had a faster shopping experience at retailers that utilize more mobile technology, be it through self-service or through sales associates.

“Consumers want technology that provides them with a quicker and more convenient shopping experience without losing the human contact they find in stores,” said Ryan Webber, director of enterprise mobility at SOTI. “That opportunity is for retailers to invest in platforms that provide a holistic mobile experience – from building mobile apps, that are both customer- and sales associate-facing, managing critical processes like payment transactions, and being able to quickly troubleshoot devices on the floor to reduce downtime, and, ultimately, customer frustration.”

Further proving consumer desire for human interaction, the survey also showed that of the 31% of respondents who have an in-home assistant like Alexa or Google Home, only 11% have used it for voice-activated shopping. That’s compared to 25% of consumers who have done so in the U.S.

SOTI surveyed 506 consumers in Canada over the age of 18 in its survey.