Research from global payments provider Klarna (done with survey specialist Censuswide) revealed that “while a majority of fashion retailers [in the U.K.] want to invest in high-tech features” such as augmented reality and virtual reality, four in five consumers polled said “they wouldn’t be interested in using it.”
Klarna also found that as fashion retailers continue to invest in these technologies, “they still find the fundamentals a challenge,” the company said in its report, adding that “a fifth of these retailers admit they are struggling to get the basics right when it comes to digitization and 42 percent are so focused on getting online right that in-store technology is not a priority.”
The survey was done as part of the company’s “Global FashTech Research Series.” For this report, Censuswide surveyed about 2,000 consumers along with 50 “decision makers in fashion retail throughout the U.K.” Authors of the research report said their findings “highlight a clear discrepancy between what shoppers want in the future and what retailers plan to deliver.”
Of the consumers polled, 73 percent said they “value shopping in-store, as it offers a human experience that can’t be re-created online.”
The research also revealed technologies that consumers favor. Topping their “wish lists” is having access to the same level of in-store discounts as what is found online as well as technology that “takes measurements” for proper fit. “In addition, a third [31 percent] of shoppers want to be able to pay later after they’ve left the store or pay after delivery, without their credit/debit card,” authors of the report said.
“However, despite clear direction from consumers on what the future of ‘fashtech’ should look like, retailers are prioritizing other less functional features,” Klarna said in a statement. “When asked what retailers would like to integrate in the future, online personas and avatars [38 percent] were top of the list, while shoppers’ top request was a better variety of clothes [28 percent]. In addition, retailers want to create virtual stores to be viewed online [32 percent], despite that only 10 percent of consumers said they’d like to see the same.”
Malin Eriksson, U.S. general manager for Klarna, said the company knows that “fashion retailers have a good track record for adopting the latest technology. However, our latest research shows that some work still needs to be done to ensure retailers are delivering what shoppers actually want.”
“What we can see is that shoppers want the basics to be done better and they don’t want their preferred fashion brands to favor fads over function through the introduction of technology that doesn’t improve their shopping experience,” Eriksson said.
Howard Saunders, a retail futurologist, noted in the report that Klarna’s 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,” Saunders said. “The future is coming at us fast, but it’s worth remembering we’ll still be human when it arrives.”