Consumers and retailers ready for robot helpers in store, but security and cost doubts could stall
A recent survey on the use of humanoid robots in retail stores, has found that 31% of retailers will be using the technology at some point in the future, with 14% expecting to have it in place in the next 12 months.
The research, conducted by Qmatic
, the customer journey management expert, also found that half of retailers agree that customers are now ready for such advanced technology in-store.
60% of the sample of decision makers at UK high street retailers – including B&Q , Tesco , John Lewis , House of Fraser and Jane Norman – told Qmatic that they believed robotics would improve the in-store experience for customers, with 54% agreeing it would have a positive impact on the overall omnichannel experience for shoppers, to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience and provide a consistent journey between the online and a physical store.
When it comes to the key benefits of robots for the retailers, 60% believed that the use of humanoid robots would increase their ability to create seamless services in-store, such as Click & Collect. Indeed, Click & Collect topped the poll for the most suitable area of retailing for robots, with 62% of retailers identifying it as among their top three, followed by customer services with 48%, and appointment booking or connecting to expert help with 42%.
Key challenges for the introduction of robotics to retail were security concerns, identified by 63% of respondents, a fear there would be poor integration with existing technology to reap the benefits of an omnichannel experience (52%) and the expense of implementation or development costs (46%). Only 15% said that consumer adoption would be an issue, and 12% felt that they did not want to replace their workforce with robots for tasks.
Vanessa Walmsley, Managing Director at Qmatic UK Ltd, commented: “Most of the retailers we spoke to were positive about the use of humanoid robotics in their stores – for some of the forward-thinking brands, it was very much on their radar. Robots are one way that retailers can offer a personalised, seamless service that very much feels like an extension of how we already run our lives digitally via our smartphones. Robots can offer a valuable touchpoint for retailers where in-store friction – such as queuing or trying to find something – is eliminated, and the number of customers who leave a store without their details being captured is better managed.”