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… with 61% of them expecting virtual reality and other cutting edge technology to be used in stores within three years

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61% of UK consumers expect bricks-and-mortar retailers to offer them virtual reality headsets (VR), multi-experience loyalty apps and other advanced technologies such as voice-activation within three years, a survey by Omnico has found.

56% of shoppers in the survey said they believe VR will help them buy anything from cars to clothing and holidays to homes. The findings are part of the quarterly Omnico Retail Gap Barometer, measuring the experiences and expectations of 1,000 UK shoppers.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the ways in which advanced technologies can be used to improve their experience in a store, whether on the high street, in a shopping centre or a retail park,” explains Mel Taylor, CEO Omnico. “They are accustomed to the ease, the options and product information of online shopping and have a new set of expectations they expect store retailers to meet through innovation.”

The survey found that 29% of consumers believe VR will be of direct help to them when looking to buy clothes. Nearly a quarter (24%) believe the technology will assist in buying kitchens or making choices about interior decorating, while 22% can see its application in car-buying.

More than a fifth (21%) said they expected retailers to offer them a single loyalty app on their phones, making life easier by covering every shopping, eating, hospitality or leisure experience at the retail park, high street or shopping centre.

The same percentage expect retailers to offer voice-activated mobile apps. Another 21% believe retailers will help free them from the irritation of using cash and cards by offering a wearable, cashless payment technology such as an RFID wristband that works at all the location’s retail and leisure facilities. A fifth (20%) believe robots will be used in stores for stock control, while one in ten believes robots will be preparing meals in in restaurants and fast-food outlets.

In other findings, the survey revealed that consumers want a greater variety of leisure and hospitality experiences from shopping destinations and expect operators to be more flexible and innovative in accommodating their expectations.

“The increased use of advanced technologies to give consumers what they want is part of the convergence of retail with hospitality and leisure,” added Taylor. “Yet to give shoppers a single, hassle-free experience will require retailers, hospitality and leisure operators to invest in the right technology that brings it all together. Without it there is little chance of taking up the great opportunities that arise from these fast-changing consumer expectations.”

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