Should we be scared of robots running our shops?

Mindtree recommends balancing of technology and human assistance to address widely diverse shopper comfort levels with automation.

Mindtree has released the findings of a study on how rapidly evolving digital trends like social media, mobile applications and robots are reshaping the way retailers engage with customers. Titled ‘Sixth Sense of Retail’, the study is based on a survey conducted with 2,000 consumers across in UK by Censuswide – an independent polling company.

The study identifies widely diverse shopper preferences across age and gender pertaining to new retail technologies like automation, artificial intelligence and robots. More than half (51 per cent) of young shoppers in the age group of 16-24 years are comfortable with the idea of automated technologies and would visit robot-driven stores.

Three quarters (78 per cent) of older shoppers over 55 years of age were apprehensive about this trend. Additionally, opinions were divided by gender with 44 per cent of men happy with a robotic shopping experience, compared with just 30 per cent of women. In order to address this sharp divide retailers should adopt a balanced mix of technology and human assistance to accommodate customers of different ages and genders.

The study also states that there is a growing demand for retailers to deliver more personalised experiences with nearly one in five (17 per cent) of 16-24 year olds asking for more personalised engagement from retailers throughout the purchasing cycle. It also highlights the influence of social media on shopping decisions.

Facebook has been reaffirmed as the most influential social platform with just under one third of consumers (32 per cent) acknowledging it as a major influencer for shopping and purchasing decisions. Retailers therefore need to harness social media channels to drive brand loyalty by harvesting the growing volumes of customer data available across multi-channels.

Consumers should be reached through social channel engagements that are personalised around preferences the retailer is looking at appealing to.

Further, as more consumers go online to make purchases, it is important retailers create content that is optimised for mobile platforms. They should focus on building strong digital relationships with customers, providing the blueprint for successful conversions both in-store and online.

‘This study showcases the stark contrasts in consumer preference across both age and gender towards automation within retail stores,’ says Paul Gottsegen, senior vice president, chief marketing and strategy officer Mindtree.

‘The retailers who can most successfully navigate the right balance of robots, and other automated store activity will be in the best position to drive more in-store shopping purchase conversion.

‘The retail industry has an exciting future ahead, but the key to success will be driven by the right balance between technology and in-store human experience,’ states Anil Gandharve, associate vice president of retail, CPG and manufacturing, Mindtree.

‘Additionally, retailers need to harness personalised customer information available through social media and mobile phone apps, to develop more impactful customer relationships.’

Further reading on robots

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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