High-tech shopping experiences: the data behind digital retail

A new survey by networking giant Cisco offers data into how consumers shop when confronted with high-tech, immersive digital retail experiences.

Networking giant Cisco this weekend released a survey offering new data into how consumers feel about high-tech, immersive shopping experiences.

The data -- released in time for the annual National Retail Federation Convention -- is an interesting look at how shoppers are confronting increasingly complex retail environments. Cisco calls the new hybrids "mashops," a mash-up of a brick-and-mortar retail environment and the digital one layered on top of it.

In general, Cisco found that digital content can indeed "frequently trigger consumers to buy."

From a sample size of 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. shoppers, it found that:

  • 19 percent of respondents were influenced to make a purchase with digital "inspiration" triggers.
  • 51 percent of American respondents use or want to use an in-store kiosk to access web-based content; 42 percent for in-store video screens or video walls.
  • 40 percent of American respondents use or are interested in using mobile phones for in-store digital content delivery; 35 percent, tablets.
  • Almost 74 percent of all respondents conduct online research before making in-store purchasing decisions.
  • 53 percent of shoppers said they'd like to do this using an in-store kiosk -- then make the purchase immediately, in the store; 45 percent, with a mobile device.

The company also offered more granular data about how shoppers actually used the technology, instead of how they merely thought they'd use it.

It found that:

  • 46 percent sought to digitally "try on" items.
  • 45 percent liked the ability to compare products and pricing.
  • 32 percent liked having access to detailed product specs.
  • 27 percent liked having directions to more easily locate products in the store
  • 40 percent wanted to compare prices at another retailer.
  • 30 percent wanted a shortlist of the best products.
  • 41 percent liked to know about limited-time specials.

"It's about capturing shoppers' feet and fingertips right in the store with digital content and experiences," said Cisco's Lisa Fretwell.

The question is whether we have the mental bandwidth to account for all of this attention-grabbing technology. I don't know about you, but my ideal experience combines the tangible reassurance of an in-person store visit with the straightforward, painless process of e-retail. I rarely just stroll into a store for the "experience" anymore; my actions are far more transactional in nature.

Nevertheless, there's one thing that's missing from all this data: service. You can throw all the technology you want at a customer, but it's no substitute if your service is sorely lacking. Sometimes we visit a brick-and-mortar store precisely because we seek that human touch. Too often, it seems, there's nary a person around to unlock the dressing rooms.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com