TECHNOLOGY

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

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

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.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Ikea marketing campaign presents long, ‘boring’ YouTube videos

BY CSA STAFF

A home furnishings retailer is taking a new approach to YouTube ads.

Making a dig at what are oftentimes annoying commercials that appear prior to a YouTube video, Ikea’s new marketing campaign is luring viewers with its own intentionally dull ad spots. Spots range between five and in one case, eight minutes, according to CNBC.

The tongue-in-cheek spots, which were developed by agency Akestam Holst, are part of Ikea’s “Where Life Happens” campaign.

While YouTube viewers are typically itching to skip these short, but cumbersome ads that have become commonplace on the social media site, Ikea reported that viewers watch their video spots for an average of three minutes, the report said.

To read more, click here.

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Online giant to add another warehouse in Georgia

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s fulfillment network is expanding in the Peach State.

The online giant plans to open a new 1,000,000-plus sq. ft. fulfillment center in Macon, Georgia. The facility will manage the picking, packing and shipping of large-sized items, including household furniture, sporting equipment and gardening tools.

The facility — Amazon’s fourth in Georgia — will create more than 500 new full-time jobs, including warehouse, management and supervisory positions. Amazon currently has more than 2,000 full-time employees operating the state’s three other fulfillment centers in Braselton, Lithia Springs and Union City.

“Georgia continues to be a great place for Amazon to do business and we look forward to adding a fulfillment center to better serve our customers in the region,” said Sanjay Shah, Amazon VP of North America customer fulfillment.

The new warehouse comes on the heels of Georgia’s bid to be home to Amazon’s new headquarters. It is one of 238 bids from cities and regions in 54 states, provinces, districts and territories across North America — all eager to host the new headquarters, which Amazon refers to as HQ2.

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