The Store of the Future

Retailers may digitize the in-store shopping experience but consumers may find it anywhere from cool to creepy.

Apps add convenience to shopping experience

There is no denying that Apps designed to help you save money and time are cool and convenient. On the other hand when an APP can detect your face, identify your age and gender and then tailor ads just for you or when a salesperson greets you by name upon identifying you as a high-value shopper as you enter a store because your phone sends them a signal – this convenience can start to feel outright creepy.

RichRelevance, a company that offers personalized shopping experiences for large retail brands conducted a “Creepy or Cool” survey to find out how consumers would feel if their in-store shopping experience were to be digitally enhanced. While shoppers found some features to be cool others they found creepy, and some fell somewhere in between.

“Shoppers want digital personalization when they are ready to engage,” Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance says. “They may not be ready for personalized messages the moment they walk in the door or even when they hit the dressing room, but our survey suggests they welcome relevant information and promotions when they are making a purchase decision.”

Consumers think the coolest feature is one that can deliver instant reviews and recommendations simply by scanning a product on their mobile device. They also find it cool when an interactive map on their mobile phone directs them to the exact location of a product, providing the shortest path to get to it. Although they find it cool, consumers were not too thrilled about a feature that recommends products, promotions and coupons while they shop.

Cool moving towards creepy.

Not so cool and bordering on the cusp of creepy are the features that can price products based on who you are. Instead of placing price tags on productsdigital screens display prices that are tailored just for you. Shoppers find digital screens in dressing rooms with the purpose of recommending products based on their current items and past purchases creepier than cool. Venturing more into creepy territory is when a salesperson has the ability to unlock the dressing room door before you arrive based on your detected location within the store.

Outright creepy.

There were some features when put to the test were a tad intrusive. Unsurprisingly consumers find them creepy.

Shoppers find the capability of an app to recognize their age, gender and then target them with advertisements such as an eye cream promotion for an older female shopper really creepy.  They found it even creepier when their phone has the capability to signal their entrance into a store making it possible for the salesperson to greet them by name. What’s the creepiest feature of them all? The ability of a feature to identify and rate one’s shopping status such as a high-value shopper, and then relay this information to a sales associate.

While some features appealed to all generations, it isn’t at all surprising that millennials–the tech savvy generation – embraced the concept more than the older generations who are still struggling to keep up with technology. Both young and old don’t mind in-store personalization such as facial recognition but only millennials like dynamic pricing in the aisles – the practice of offering different prices for the same product. In fact they were the only age group to rate this feature more cool than creepy.

So, will digital enhancements become the store of the future?

Guess we’ll have to wait and see but for now what it boils down to is that shoppers are cool with a device that can help them navigate the store to find relevant products and information; but are creeped out by digital capabilities that identify, track and use their location and demographics to target ads towards them.

For you as a shopper, this will mean more convenience and more customized shopping experiences. Unfortunately, this may be bad news for your budget – particularly when it comes to in-store impulse purchases. You’ll be more tempted to pull out a credit card to buy something you didn’t really need that’s “perfect for you.” This could lead to bigger problems with credit card debt and your budget if you can’t restrain yourself from buying more as a result of a customized shopping experience in the store.

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April Lewis-Parks
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