New research shows that retailers could improve on executing on new innovations in e-commerce. For example, 79% of retail executives believe chatbots are meeting consumer needs, according to an Oracle NetSuite survey of 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives released in January. However, consumers disagree. Two thirds (66%) of consumers disagree, with many saying that chatbots are more damaging to the shopping experience than helpful.
It’s a similar tale with stores and social media. For example, 73% of retail executives believe that the overall environment in retail stores has become more inviting in the past five years. However, only 45% of consumers agree. And 19% of shoppers think stores have become less inviting.
Additionally, almost all (98%) of retail executives think that engaging with customers on social media is important to building stronger relationships with them, while only 12% of consumers think it has a signiﬁcant impact on the way they think or feel about a brand.
Consumers also want better personalization—and some are willing to pay for it. 80% of consumers do not feel they are provided with a personalized shopping experience both in-store and online, despite almost half of consumers (42%)—and almost two thirds of millennials (63%)—noting that they would pay more for improved personalization, according to the study.
The Oracle NetSuite research suggests retailers might need help in implementing more complex e-commerce technologies. For example, only 11% of retail executives believe that their staff has the tools and information needed to give consumers a personalized experience. That suggests there is a gap between consumer demand for improved personalization and retailers’ ability to deliver on it.
The report also finds:
- 80% of retail executives believe that consumers would feel more welcome if in-store staff interacted with them more. But fewer than half (46%) of consumers agree, and 28% say they would feel more annoyed if store staff did so.
- 58% of consumers are uncomfortable with the way stores use technology to improve personalization in their shopping experience, and 45% reported negative emotions when they receive personalized offers online.
- 53% of shoppers felt negative emotions the last time they visited a store.
- Nearly all (90%) retail executives are not conﬁdent that the use of advanced technologies to customize the shopping experience is meeting consumers’ needs.
- 79% of retailer executives believe having virtual reality and artificial intelligence in stores will increase sales. However, only 14% of consumers believe the technologies will have a signiﬁcant impact on their purchase decisions.
- Almost all (98%) retail executives believe VR and AI will increase foot traffic. Meanwhile, 48% of consumers do not think VR or AI would have any impact on how likely they are to go into a store.
- Nearly all (97%) of consumers agree there is a need to go into a physical store to purchase items and the majority (70%) believe the most appealing retail stores have features that simplify and streamline the shopping experience.
- The top features attracting consumers to physical stores are: options consistent with those online (36% selected this answer), simpler store layouts (35%), staff’s ability to place orders on mobile devices (29%) and in-store kiosks that allow consumers to purchase products that are unavailable in store (23%).
- The top technology advancements that consumers want to utilize when shopping in a store or online are self-checkout kiosks (38%), virtual reality try-on (23%) and mobile payments (15%). Only 5% of consumers selected robots and chatbots as the technologies they most want to utilize.