Study: Retailers investing in technology that shoppers not ready to embrace

Retailers are increasing their technology budgets, but they may be investing in enhancements that shoppers don't want. At least not yet.

That's according to a report from IFTTT, which found that 60% of retailers are increasing their technology budgets, with significant investments across personalization and social media. The study projects a 53% spending increase in artificial intelligence (AI) technology among retailers by 2020.

However, the average consumer may not be ready to embrace cutting-edge shopping technologies, and may very well require further education on their benefits. For instance, 68% of respondents have never used a retail chatbot, and 23% don’t even know what chatbots are.

Additionally, 83% of people do not trust a robot to shop for them, but would trust a robot (rather than a drone) to deliver their online orders. Drones clearly have their work cut out for them when it comes to winning over customers’ trust — 66% of shoppers would prefer their gifts be delivered by Rudolph this holiday season over the delivery robots.

The promise of virtual reality revolutionizing the customer experience is slowly taking off. The study found that most (59%) of consumers are actually open to virtual shopping, with the most popular use case for home decoration.

In other findings:

• The Amazon effect is in full force thanks to its promise to bring automation and convenience to its customers. In fact, 36% of respondents would rather stay at home and shop with Alexa or Siri than go to the mall with family or friends.

• Thirty-six percent of shoppers use at least one retail subscription service (such as Stitch Fix, Bark Box or Harry’s Razors), and 53% are interested in using such services. However, retailers shouldn’t give up on the in-store experience, as only 34% of consumers report shopping more online than in-store.

• Thirty-five percent of shoppers are banking on Black Friday for the best deals this year, followed by the day after Christmas (29%). More than 57% do the majority of their holiday shopping at mass retailers, like Walmart and Amazon.

• When it comes to hearing about holiday deals, 38% of respondents prefer email. Only 12% said social media posts.

“No matter what time of year, the ideal technology strategy would be to offer consumers the ability to fully customize their shopping experience whether in-store, online, or both,” said Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT. “All consumers are different, but offering them the tools and experiences they want to tailor their shopping experience is key to maximizing retailers’ technology investments.”