Smartphone Shoppers Altering Retail Reality

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Taking a look at the fast-changing reality of retail, Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab presents: “Beyond smartphone shopping – the rise of smart assistants”. This report describes how connectivity is driving two major shifts in how people shop. The ongoing surge to use smartphones to pay for goods and services is leading to a second shift involving the use of shopping assistants.

Highlights from the report include:

  • Smartphone shopping is expected to peak globally in the coming few years with 43 percent surveyed already making purchases on their phone weekly.
  • Majority of smartphone shoppers expect most people to have a personal shopping advisor within 3 years; emerging demand for digital shopping assistants to help with purchase decisions.
  • 69 percent of AR and VR users think these technologies will give smartphones all the benefits of physical stores within 3 years.

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.

Selecting the type of shopping assistant for home and personal purchases will soon be more important than the actual purchase decision. For example, 63 percent of smartphone shoppers want help with price comparisons – a likely role for a home restocking assistant. And 48 percent want help making shopping decisions easy – a likely role for a personal shopping advisor.

The 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.

“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” says Michael Björn, Head of Research at Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab. “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.”

Digitalization of shopping raises questions about the future of the physical store as well. 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?

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