- Retailers aren't prepared to support technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) to engage mobile shoppers, per a study that researcher WBR Insights shared with Mobile Marketer. Only 9% of 100 senior retail executives surveyed said they were able to support these more advanced technologies, while 52% said they weren't prepared.
- The biggest obstacles to adopting the mobile-based technologies were budget (cited by 64% of executives), a lack of internal resources (55%) and a lack of executive buy-in (42%). Among technologies that retailers are evaluating for implementation in the next two years, AR was cited by 27% of executives, followed by voice recognition (25%) and progressive web apps (22%).
- Retailers said mobile payments (60%), AI and chatbots (48%) and on-demand same-day services (47%) have the most potential to improve mobile commerce.
WBR's survey indicates that retail executives have long wish lists for mobile tech, but uncertainties about which to implement — coupled with spending restraints — could pose significant hurdles to customer satisfaction. About 70% of retailers said that mobile channels make up less than half of their sales, but mobile commerce is growing increasingly important among retailers with a digital presence, according to WBR.
AI, chatbots and AR/VR currently are used by a small fraction of retailers, but WBR's research suggests that these technologies will become more prevalent as merchants aim to connect with mobile customers. Only 5% of retailers said they use AI or chatbots currently, but about 76% are either rolling out the technology or considering whether to implement it in the next two years. One percent of retailers said they use AR/VR, but 63% are either rolling it out or are considering whether to adopt the tech in the next two years.
The study recommends that retailers prioritize mobile payments among the technologies they're considering. About one-fourth (24%) of retailers already have a mobile payment solution or are currently rolling one out, while 61% are either evaluating a solution or considering it in the next two years.
Progressive web apps (PWAs), which provide an app-like experience through a mobile browser, are the second-most popular mobile technology for retailers. About one-fifth (21%) of retailers already have a PWA or are currently developing the tech, while 56% are evaluating PWAs to potentially implement in the next two years.
The least popular technologies are biometrics and wearables. Biometrics, which include a range of technologies to identify people by their physical characteristics, haven't been implemented by any retailers surveyed, and another 63% said they aren't focused on working with the technology.
Integration with wearables, a product category that includes smartwatches, fitness trackers and clothing equipped with microchips, also is a low priority. Nearly half (47%) of retailers saying they aren't considering the technology.