Taking a look at the fast-changing reality of retail is Ericsson's Consumer & Industry Lab report entitled "Beyond smartphone shopping – the rise of smart assistants".
The report describes how "connectivity is driving two major shifts in how people shop", with the ongoing surge to use smartphones to pay for goods and services is leading to "a second shift involving the use of shopping assistants".
Indeed, we're told that soon, smartphone users will "rely on digital assistants in their phones for aspirational shopping support, while simultaneously driving the use of smart home speakers for automation of routine household purchases.
But wait – there's more.
It turns out that "selecting the type of shopping assistant for home and personal purchases will soon be more important than the actual purchase decision. For example, 63% of smartphone shoppers want help with price comparisons – a likely role for a home restocking assistant. And 48% want help making shopping decisions easy – a likely role for a personal shopping adviser".
Ericsson also states its report is "based on a survey of advanced internet users in ten influential cities globally. The sample makes up only a fraction of shoppers worldwide but was chosen because the digital technology used by these respondents puts them at the forefront of the fundamental changes we see sweeping retail around the world".
Michael Björn, head of Research at Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab, said: “While fascinating in their own right, fast-changing consumer shopping behaviors are important to understand for anyone involved in 5G, smart homes, consumer IoT and artificial intelligence.
“When consumers start employing AI to automate everyday purchasing, this will create demand for IoT enabled sensors as well as a need for people to connect appliances in their homes.”
Then comes the news that "digitalisation of shopping raises questions about the future of the physical store as well".
Why? Because "consumers expect AR/VR-technology to bring all the benefits of physical stores. And more than half believe the effect of fewer people going to stores will be an increase in home deliveries. This indicates a connectivity-driven future for retail both for digital shopping experiences and automation of deliveries".
Respondents also see issues with personal information going forward, leading to a key question: To what extent can digital shopping assistants be trusted, and how will they impact consumers?
About the report
- This report presents insights based on an online survey (carried out in January 2018) of 5048 advanced Internet users in Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo.
- Respondents were aged 15 to 69 and fit the profile of urban early adopters and represent 50 million of the 180 million living in these cities.
- Forty-three percent of the respondents are online smartphone shoppers, meaning that they shop using their smartphones directly at least weekly.
- A further 45% use digital voice assistants on a weekly basis, with as many as 35% using augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) at least once a week.