SOTI’s new global retail report, Techspectations: Consumer Demand for Digital Transformation in Retail, finds that while the majority (92%) of Canadian shoppers use in-store tech, frustration is growing with data security and consumer service gaps.
Despite adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and mobile technologies, 78% of Canadians express security concerns with personal data, 28% find the in-store shopping experience more confusing than ever before, and 47% have experienced issues with devices such as self-serve checkout
The survey of 1,000 Canadian shoppers found that consumers expect seamless in-store interactions, personalized recommendations, and instant access to inventory online and in-store. This is what’s required to ensure their continued loyalty.
While many retailers do offer technology as part of the shopping experience in store, 92% of customers – almost all – believe that what’s offered actually makes the experience worse. Canadians cite challenges in-store such as a lack of staff to assist with issues relating to self-serve machines (73% of users), while as many as 31% stated that, despite visiting a store to buy goods, retail staff members had to order the item online using the store device.
The report suggests that consumer expectations have risen, largely due to the sophisticated personalization and seamless processes available online, which in-store technologies currently fail to match. To address this, SOTI says retailers must invest in AI-driven solutions and device management to provide consistent, personalized and convenient shopping experiences in both physical stores and online.
Supply chain optimization in the retail industry is also critical. Canadian shoppers now demand real-time information, efficient product availability and rapid delivery in-store and online. The report reveals that 46% of Canadian consumers expect to be able to pick up an item ordered online from a physical store on the same day, and 41% will look elsewhere if delivery or pick-up of an item is more than two days. Most (77%) of consumers expect to always know the status of their orders, highlighting the need for efficient supply chain visibility.
“Retailers have been focusing on how to maximize AI’s impact for the online experience without fully replicating these benefits in their physical stores where it can address many of the pain points Canadian consumers are facing today,” says Shash Anand, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy at SOTI. “For those with an omnichannel approach, strategic investment in in-store infrastructure will enable AI and automation to optimize supply chain processes, identify technical issues, enhance inventory visibility and aide in forecasting, while reducing waste. As a result, they can ensure a harmonized and efficient retail experience that will replicate the seamlessness consumers expect from online shopping.”
Security is a significant concern for Canadian consumers. More than three-quarters (78%) expressed concerns about entering personal details online or through in-store devices, indicating a pervasive lack of trust in the data collection and payment technologies used by retail organizations. Security concerns extend to fraud, with 41% of consumers worrying about becoming a victim of financial fraud and another 42% expressing concerns about identity fraud.
Additionally, the report emphasizes on the importance of in-store device security. Canadian consumers have concerns using in-store devices due to mistrust of retailers, including the potential exposure of personal details (40%) and the risk of the next user seeing personal information (25%). Despite this, 43% of consumers view in-store devices as tools to enhance shopping convenience and speed. This highlights the need for retailers to balance convenience and security while building trust among those making purchases in the retail space.
“When reflecting on the overall retail experience, Canadian respondents continue to expect change and see value in technology to enhance their interactions with retailers, but gaps in expectations and reality continue to jeopardize brand loyalty and sales,” said Anand. “Looking to the future, retailers must focus on the technologies and infrastructure around them and ask how these applications, devices and technology solutions are being managed, monitored, and maintained.”
SOTI’s latest report, Techspectations: Consumer Demand for Digital Transformation in Retail, can be downloaded here. It was conducted between September 3 and September 14, 2023, via 11,000 self-completed interviews from nine markets around the world. All interviewees were consumers aged 18 to 65. The markets represented were: The U.S. (2,000), Canada (1,000), Mexico (1,000), UK (2,000), Germany (1,000), France (1,000), Sweden (1,000), the Netherlands (1,000), and Australia (1,000). In addition to presenting global, overarching trends, the results were broken down into these individual market tables and regional sets for Europe and North America.