British shoppers now expect stores to be tech-enabled with an array of features like smart fitting rooms and virtual reality, according to the Barclays New Retail Reality report.
Its study of 2,000 consumers, reveals that 65% of shoppers are eager to see more touchscreen technology, while newer, more experiential technologies are popular too. Shoppers are more likely to visit a store kitted out with virtual reality (57%), smart fitting rooms (57%) or augmented reality (52%).
In addition, while the appetite for the use of drones in retail is muted, with around two-thirds of shoppers citing worries about security, privacy and collisions, new payment technologies can’t come fast enough. They’re highly rated by consumers, with many describing contactless (48%) and mobile payments (37%) as “life changing”.
In another technological shift, shoppers are now five times more likely to use social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to complain about a product than they were three years ago. And they want a quick response when they complain, with one in three (38%) expecting a complaint made via social media responded to within an hour.
Londoners are keenest about new retail technologies, closely followed by those in the North West. Respondents from this region are among the country’s most eager for biometric payments, mobile payments, smart fitting room and touchscreen technologies in stores.
Shoppers in Manchester are especially keen to trial virtual reality technologies in-store, even more so than those in London. In addition, although appetite for drone delivery services is more muted overall, shoppers in London and Northern Ireland are most eager for the introduction of them.
Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: “Our research reveals that the public still sees the high street as an essential part of the shopping experience [but] consumer expectations are currently moving faster than retailer innovation.”
The research also throws up some interesting points about Brexit. Britons said they want the industry protected during Brexit negotiations. Two thirds (64%) of consumers say they’re proud of the service that UK retailers provide to society, and a similar proportion (65%) want the protection of UK retailers and goods prioritised during Brexit negotiations. Overall, however, consumers are uncertain about the impact of Brexit on retail and worry about the availability of luxury goods (42%).
A version of this post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday.