3 things to know about retail tech investments

From self-checkout to voice shopping, technological innovations have been transforming the retail landscape over the past decade. Retailers have heavily invested in tech to ease the entire path to purchase, and consumers are on board. In the latest issue of the Consumer View: The Robot in the Room, NRF surveyed consumers to better understand their expectations surrounding technology, and what they hope to see in the future.

Retailer investments have paid off

While retailers may be focusing on the future of tech, it’s important to note how successful existing shopping technologies are, according to consumers. Regardless of the channel, more than three out of five consumers feel retail technologies have improved their shopping experiences. They’ve noticed particular improvement when shopping online, with eight in 10 saying they’ve had better interactions thanks to retailers’ technology investments.

Those who’ve grown up embracing tech in all aspects of their lives are particularly satisfied: Millennials are more likely than any other generation to feel these innovations have enhanced their overall shopping experiences.



Opportunities remain to further improve the shopping experience through technology

Consumers report feeling the most frustrated in the early stages of the path to purchase, when they’re researching products or reading reviews. Importantly, this is when they’re the most interested in trying new retailer innovations to help them. Nearly half expressed interest in tech solutions that assist with the early phase of the shopping journey.

Shoppers of different generations experience different pain points. Members of Generation Z and millennials are more likely to struggle early on. Millennials are most likely to face frustration at the very start (for example, when researching a product), while Gen Zers are more likely than others to hit roadblocks right before making a purchase — when checking prices, for example. Members of Generation X and baby boomers report struggling toward the end of their shopping journey. Both of these groups are more likely than their younger counterparts to face difficulty while checking out or post-purchase, such as when writing a review or returning items.  

Overall, frustration levels drop dramatically once shoppers reach the checkout stage, where many retailers have invested in tech to smooth the process for their customers. Nike’s flagship NYC store offers instant checkout points and a frictionless “speed shop,” which allows shoppers to reserve shoes online, enter the store through a dedicated entrance and pick up their purchase from a locker they can open with their smartphones. From self-checkout to mobile payment to buy online, pick up in store, consumers have embraced retailers’ solutions; roughly two-thirds have been satisfied with their experience.

Consumers express curiosity in retail’s emerging solutions

Shoppers expect retailers to solve their pain points. Even newer technologies that aren’t yet widely adopted capture their attention and interest. For example, while over half have not tried a smart dressing room or augmented reality, they say that they would like to. And more eight in 10 of those who have tried these innovations must have had a beneficial experience, because they’re interested in trying them again.

Today’s shoppers expect innovation from retailers, particularly millennials. Consumers find it important that brands offer technology throughout the shopping journey, particularly when it comes to taking the guesswork out of the pre-purchase experience. Millennials across the board are the most likely to say it’s important that retailers offer innovation or technology that helps them shop.



Retailers understand their customers expect them to provide innovation. From digital price tags at Kroger to Zara’s self-checkout, the industry is fully embracing emerging technologies to continue to improve the consumer’s entire shopping journey.

Learn more in the latest edition of the Consumer View: The Robot in the Room.


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