TECHNOLOGY

Consumers rank ‘cool’ vs. ‘creepy’ technologies

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers may want a more personalized shopping experience, but some efforts in this regard creep them out.

Facial recognition technology that identifies a shopper as a loyal customer and relays their preferences to the in-store salesperson ranked as one of the top "creepy" technologies among consumers in the third annual “Creepy or Cool” report from RichRelevance. The study surveyed more than 3,500 global consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany about such customer experience innovations as artificial intelligence and in-store robots. (All stats in article are for U.S. consumers.)

In addition to not being wild about facial recognition technology, con-sumers are put off by companies that understand their shopping habits so well that they are able to use artificial intelligence / data to choose and order products on their behalf (69% rated it "creepy" and 15% rated it "cool"). Another top "creepy" technology: computer programs (such as chatbots) that use artificial intelligence to help answer customer service questions, rather than a real person (50% creepy" vs. 23% cool).

"Retailers need a technology cool factor but can’t afford to alienate shop-pers,” said Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance.

Younger millennials (ages 18-29) responded much more positively to cutting-edge technologies, such as robots and virtual reality (VR) glasses than older generations. And the majority of U.S. respondents (63%) said they would allow retailers to collect more customer data to improve the customer experience – and 40% it should be collected anonymously.

In other survey findings:

• The top "cool" technologies for all U.S. consumers is the ability to search and order products verbally using voice recognition technology (46% cool vs. 22% creepy) and being able to use fingerprint scanning to pay for items and get automatic home delivery, all from the store floor (46% cool vs. 34% creepy.)

• The top "cool" technologies for millennials are digital screens, interac-tive mirrors and virtual reality glasses that display additional products which complement what a shopper is trying on (52% cool for millennials vs. 41% cool overall).

• Millennials also like robots that would guide them to specific products within store aisles upon request (51% cool for millennials vs. 40% cool overall).

• The ability to leave a store with purchases without actually checking out and have your account charged instead was viewed as cool by 45% of millennials vs. 39% overall.

• Europeans are more comfortable with new technologies than their American counterparts, and more willing to share customer data in ex-change for a superior customer experience (81% vs. 63%).

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U.K.-based grocery giant jumps into the one-hour delivery game

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Tesco is launching a one-hour delivery service — a move that will enable the chain to go head-to-head with Amazon.

The U.K.-based supermarket giant introduced its new Tesco Now app, which enables shoppers in central London to choose from a range of 1,000 products, and have them delivered within an hour. Merchandise crosses categories such as fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, bakery goods and dairy, as well as pet, baby, health and beauty products.

Here’s how the service works: Shoppers use the app to select up to 20 items. Orders will be picked in a local store and delivered to customers — via moped — within 60 minutes. Customers will also be able to track their order status via the Tesco Now app, which also delivers live updates on the progress of their order, Tesco reported.

The service is available between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays, and 9am until 11pm at weekends. The service is priced at £7.99 with no required minimum. If customers are willing to wait two hours for delivery, the price drops to £5.99. The "last-mile" logistics and deliveries for the service are being handled by Quiqup, a London-based delivery startup, according to Business Insider.

The new service complements Tesco’s existing online grocery options available in London and the South East. These services both feature same-day delivery and same-day click-and-collect options.

“From forgotten essentials to that crucial final ingredient, Tesco Now can get them to our customers' door within the hour,” said Adrian Letts, Tesco’s online managing director. "Shoppers’ needs are changing and we want to offer a range of services that allow them to shop with us in a way that suits their needs.”

The grocer launched Tesco Now in response to Amazon's invasion into the U.K. grocery market. The app-based delivery service will also help Tesco battle traditional competitors, including Sainsbury’s, which launched one-hour delivery last year, as well as increasing pressure from German discounters Aldi and Lidl, according to Reuters.

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Target debuts next-day delivery service

BY Marianne Wilson

Target Corp. has entered the fast-growing next-day grocery delivery market.

The discounter on Tuesday launched a pilot for Target Restock, a next-day delivery service for household essentials and dry grocery items ordered online, in its hometown market of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The service, available only to Target REDcard holders, comes with a flat fee of $4.99 per box.

Target Restock comes as such rivals as Walmart and Amazon have been expanding similar services. Notably, it is faster and cheaper than Amazon's Prime Pantry, which has a flat 5.99 delivery fee per box (shipping is free, however, if the order includes five qualifying items). Prime Pantry orders arrive within four business days. Some grocers offer same-day grocery delivery through third-parties, including Instacart and Shipt.

To use the new Target service, shoppers go to the dedicated Target Restock online storefront where they can shop — either by specific item, category or brand — more than 10,000 products, ranging from laundry detergent and paper towels to granola bars and coffee.

As shoppers fill up a box, a grey bar at the top of their screen will show the percentage of space each item in the box has taken up and the percentage of space that's left. (The box is limited to 45 pounds.)

The items will be packaged at a nearby store. If the order is placed by 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, it will arrive at the customer’s home the next business day.

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