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Half of consumers prefer a mix of AI and human shopping interaction, but just 10% of companies are willing to implement it: study (updated)

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More than half (55%) of global consumers say that they prefer a combination of AI and human interaction in their shopping experience, yet only 10% of companies are willing to implement it, says a new study.

Consumers’ growing comfort in using AI as a shopping tool is also increasing their reassurance in AI having human-like attributes. But, does this vision fit within current retailer strategies?

According to Capgemini’s ’Digital Transformation Institute’ report, 62% of consumers report that they want AI to be more human-like and 49% of the same cohort says that they would have a higher affiliation with a retailer if that was the case. Additionally, 38% say that they have purchased following a good AI experience and 10% have increased their spend as a direct result of good AI.

Some 10,000 consumers and 500 companies across 10 countries were questioned, with a supplementary three virtual focus group discussions of 8-10 consumers per focus group in USA, France, and Germany. 

Shoppers want AI-enabled interactions to be heard and experienced, but not seen. In fact, 62% of the questioned consumers say that they are keen for AI to be a human voice and the ability to understand emotions (57%). Yet, signs of physical features are deemed “creepy,” as 52% are not happy to see AI looking like a person, with 66% want companies to be aware of these facts when introducing AI related experiences.

Despite consumers appetite for AI-powered customer engagements, retailers are prioritising traditional metrics over customer preferences. The majority (62%) of the surveyed organisations say that they prioritise cost and ROI (59%), in comparison to 10% who rank improving customer experience and elimination of customer pain points (7%) as the most critical factors for implementing AI-inclusive interactions in their business strategies.

This philosophy is echoed in RichRelevance’s ’Creepy or Cool’ report, which surveyed 2500 consumers across Europe to find out their attitude towards an adoption of AI in shopping service.

Some 50% of the surveyed German, French and British (43%) consumer value the use of AI in personalising products and services, and 42%, 34% and 39% respectively are willing to share their personal data to personalised those services if it is kept anonymous.

Even so, the report goes on to suggest that there is a thin line between the technologies being “cool” and “creepy” in the eyes of shoppers.

Some 58% of all questioned shoppers find it “creepy” if a technology adapts the shopping experience to their mood and facial recognition (57%) which identifies shoppers’ preferences and relays them to a sales assistant. This is closely followed by voice-assistants (56%) listening in to home conversations, retailers knowing customers pay date (55%), and locations/ proximity to shops (45%) so they can target consumers with relevant deals.

When it comes to “cool” technology, 50% of all surveyed shoppers desire a fingerprint payment option that delivers goods to their home, and a voice-assistant (46%) search service for shopping via mobile. Some 41% of the same cohort want their smartphones to display digital flags to identify particular items in-store, and virtual reality goggles (41%) that improve aisle browsing, with digital screens and mirrors (36%) complementing overall physical store experience.

“It is somewhat ironic that natural language processing and machine learning provides organizations with the opportunity to build deeper, more human relationships with their customers,” says Mark Taylor, chief experience officer, digital customer experience practice, at Capgemini.

He concludes: “By focusing their AI implementations to reimagine, streamline and simplify customer interactions, organizations can boost customer spend and loyalty. To see the biggest bottom-line boost, firms need to make both artificial intelligence and customer experience a strategic priority.”

Image: Fotolia

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