Shoppers want a more personal experience, not virtual: Klarna report

The global payments provider Klarna and Censuswide has released a report on UK customers showing a gap between what shoppers want and what retailers are planning to deliver.

Klarna and Censuswide has released a report on UK customers showing a gap between what shoppers want and what retailers are planning to deliver

The latest survey by Klarna and Censuswide included 2,000 shoppers and 50 decision makers in the UK fashion retail market. This survey uncovered a discrepancy between what shoppers value and what brands are investing in.

Although the survey showed that most fashion retailers are keen to invest in technology such as augmented reality and virtual reality, four out of five shoppers said that they were not interested in using such technology. Shoppers value the basics and many retailers noted that, although they have ambitious technology plans, they are still struggling with the fundamentals.

According to the report, 42 percent of retailers are focusing on online retail to the detriment of in-store technology. Moreover, one in five retailers expressed that they are struggling with the basics of digitisation.

A total of 73 percent of shoppers, on the other hand, expressed clearly that they value in-store shopping and that the human experience cannot be replicated online. Retailers therefore need to continue to augment their brick-and-mortar stores.

Shoppers stated that what they wanted: to see technology that takes measurements so customers can be sure that clothing will fit before purchasing (42 percent); access to online discounts in-store (49 percent); a better variety of clothes (28 percent), and the option to pay after leaving the store or after delivery (31 percent). In contrast to this, retailers said that they plan to push online personas and avatars (38 percent) and virtual stores to be viewed online (32 percent) However, only ten percent of customers expressed an interest in virtual stores.

"The advancement of technology is inevitable and it's clear that customers are undecided about the advantages of some of the latest technology,” said Howard Saunders, retail futurologist, in a press release.

“This research shows that retailers may enthuse and embrace technology as a means of reviving sales, but unless customers can see the benefits personally, it could be a wasted investment. A muted response to technology like drone delivery, smart fabrics, and virtual store assistants shows that removing the personal element from fashion retail could be a mistake. The future is coming at us fast, but it's worth remembering we'll still be human when it arrives."

Shoppers in the survey consistently showed more of an interest in the personal side of shopping than the technological.

For example, 49 percent of shoppers said they miss the personalised deals they receive online when shopping in-store. Moreover, 46 percent find online shopping more convenient than in-store shopping.

This suggests that an omni-channel with high personalisation is the key to fashion retail success in the UK.

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