Shoppers Are Warming Up to Retail Tech

Millennials are leading the change in attitude

Technology has reshaped retail, and certain innovations are being embraced. While more consumers are finding retail tech to be cool, there are still those who have their reservations. 

For the fourth consecutive year, RichRelevance checked in with US internet users about their attitudes toward different retail technologies—from facial recognition to robots. It's important to note that some technologies mentioned in their "Creepy or Cool 2017" study were not mentioned in their most recent one (like sensory clothing or augmented reality apps that let them view products in-store). But that's likely because tech continues to change every year. 

In its May 2018 survey, RichRelevance polled 1,037 consumers ages 18 and older. And one common theme? The creep factor for certain tech is falling.

When asked how they feel about robots guiding them to specific products within store aisles upon request, 32.0% said it was creepy. That's an 8.9 percentage decrease from 2017, when 1,003 US internet users were polled

Similarly, this year fewer respondents said that facial recognition identifying them as a loyal customer and relaying their preferences to a salesperson in-store was creepy (60.9%) compared with a year prior (69.3%)

Millennials, defined by RichRelevance as those between 18 and 29, are leading this change. Younger shoppers are less likely than older respondents to see select retail technologies as creepy, and they are more willing to embrace innovation.

That mirrors a Salesforce study conducted last year, which found millennials are open to AI and other shopping-related technologies. In that study, 28% of millennials said they would like it if a retailer made personalized offers in a digital channel—such as email or a mobile app—based on their purchasing history. In contrast, just 11% of baby boomers felt the same way.