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Half of shoppers prefer digital channels and 1 in 5 have ordered with a voice controlled device, study finds

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2016 seems to have been a pivotal year for retail: not only has digital payments replaced cash as the leading payment tool, but digital channels have become the preferred method of shopping – and voice controlled devices are also starting to find their place.

According to Walker Sands’ fourth annual report, “Future of Retail 2017 nearly half of consumers (46%) now prefer to shop via a digital channel, such as mobile, desktop or voice-controlled device, a 48% jump from last year.

Almost a third of consumers (29%) shop online at least weekly, a number that increases to 37% for millennials.

As digital shopping experiences become more popular amongst consumers, this year’s findings highlight three major trends shaping the future of retail:

Consumer connectivity will force retailers to offer a more fluid commerce experience. More than 90% of consumers now own at least one connected device and nearly a quarter (24%) own a voice-controlled device. Another 20% plan to purchase one in the next year.

Voice ordering will be the next frontier for retailers. One in five consumers (19%) have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, and another third (33%) plan to do so in the next year.

Unique brand experiences will keep brick-and-mortar alive. In addition to discounts, consumers say food and beverage offerings (30%), personalization (18%), live product demonstrations (18%) and entertainment (17%) will attract them to shop in store.

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