Digital River Survey on Consumer Attitudes Towards AI, Emerging Tech and Omnichannel Shopping
Digital River has released findings from its most recent consumer survey aimed at helping brands navigate emerging technologies and changing consumer expectations. The survey data was collected from 3,000 total respondents equally spread across the US, UK, and Germany.
Consumers Prefer In-Person Buying in Specific Cases
Although we are in the digital age, consumers still show a preference for shopping for consumer goods in person. This preference is driven by their desire to see and try products firsthand, as well as the immediate availability of items. Consequently, consumers are more prone to making impulse purchases in physical stores.
When shopping for consumer goods, consumers say that they often shop in person (78%) compared to online (44%).
A majority of consumers still prefer to shop in person (63%) compared to online (32%). Only five percent of respondents answered that they don’t know. Consumers in the United States (70%) were the most likely to say that they prefer in person shopping compared to those in the United Kingdom (60%) and Germany (59%). The United Kingdom had the highest percentage of consumers say that they prefer to shop online (36%) compared to those in Germany (34%) and the United States (27%).
Although the items shopped for in person varied in preference amongst consumers, groceries and toiletries are the most popular. When asked to indicate their preferred shopping method for consumer goods, consumers say that they prefer to shop in person for food / groceries (80%), toiletries (70%), home décor and furniture (56%) and clothing / accessories (56%).
The most common reasons as to why consumers prefer shopping in person include seeing items in person (67%), being able to try on / test products before purchase (56%) and immediate product availability (50%).
When asked where their shopping process typically starts, consumers say online (38%), in person (26%) and a combination of online and in person (22%). Online searches were highest amongst 35–44-year-olds (45%) and lower amongst the 18–24-year-olds (36%) and 65+ (30%) which were the second to lowest and lowest.
When asked where they are most likely to make an impulse purchase, consumers most commonly say in store (37%), equally likely for both (26%), and online (24%). Likelihood to impulse shop in store was slightly higher for women (39%) compared to men (34%). Likelihood to impulse shop online was slightly higher for men (27%) compared to women (22%). Consumers in the United States (41%) are the most likely to make impulse purchases in store compared to those in the United Kingdom (38%) and Germany (31%). Consumers in Germany (28%) are more likely to make impulse purchases online compared to those in the United Kingdom (23%) and the United States (21%).
Consumers were given a scenario regarding a pop-up ad for buying show related products from brand merchandise during their favorite TV show or streaming service. The majority of consumers say that they prefer to make their purchases in retail or physical stores (40%) compared to others who say that it depends on the types of products available (28%) and those who would find it convenient to purchase directly from the streaming service (15%).
Shoppers Look to Ecommerce to Save Time
In today’s fast-paced society, it is no surprise that consumers value their time. Consumers appreciate that online shopping saves time and provides flexibility in their shopping experience.
Consumers that prefer to shop online view it as being time saving (54%), a convenience (51%), provides them the ability to shop at any time of day (46%) and allows them to avoid crowds, long lines (45%). Top reasons for shopping online varied slightly by country. Consumers in the United States prefer to shop online for convenience (67%), avoiding crowds / long lines (63%) and for time saved (56%). Consumers in Germany prefer to shop online for time saved (51%), the ability to shop at any time of the day (31%) and exclusive online deals, coupon codes (31%). Consumers in the United Kingdom prefer to shop online for convenience (59%), time saved (55%), the ability to shop at any time of the day (53%) and to avoid crowds, long lines (52%).
When shopping online, consumers prefer to shop for books and media (58%), electronics (51%) and office supplies (47%).
When asked what the most enjoyable aspects are when shopping online, consumers say that it is easier to locate / publicize sales online (37%), it has personalized recommendations based on previous purchases or browsing history (29%) and user-generated content such as product reviews or social media posts (26%).
Brands Are Looking to Leverage AI
The evolving landscape of online shopping reflects consumers growing familiarity with AI. Consumers value the ability to elevate their shopping experience through applications of AI including enhanced search capabilities and personalization.
Nearly three in ten consumers (27%) say that they were familiar with AI prior to taking this survey. Consumers in Germany (33%) were more likely to say that they are familiar with AI, prior to taking this survey, than their counterparts in the United States (24%) and the United Kingdom (23%). Men (31%) were more likely to say that they are familiar with AI, prior to taking this survey, than women (23%).
Consumers say that enhanced search and filtering capabilities (36%), personalized product recommendations (34%) and virtual try-on or augmented reality experiences (27%) are the most impactful applications of AI in enhancing the online shopping experience.
Nearly a third of consumers (32%) say that they would be likely to allow AI to automate routine consumer goods orders for them. Consumers in Germany (38%) are more likely to allow AI to automate routine consumer goods orders for them compared to their counterparts in the United Kingdom (31%) and the United States (28%).
Control over purchasing decisions (42%), desire to be involved in the decision-making process for purchases (31%), privacy and security concerns regarding personal data (29%), lack of trust in AI’s ability to accurately understand preferences (29%) and preference for flexibility in making changes to orders based on current needs (28%) are seen as the top reasons as to why consumers are not yet comfortable with allowing AI to handle routine consumer goods orders for them.
Lack of Trust in AI Curbs Rapid Adoption in Ecommerce
When considering online shopping, data privacy and security are still of importance to consumers. Consumers also express concerns about the trustworthiness of social media platforms as well as their reservations about making purchases through social media platforms.
When asked if they would be willing to give up data privacy in exchange for convenience when shopping online, nearly half of consumers (49%) disagree. When asked if they would be willing to give up data security in exchange for convenience when shopping online a little more than half of consumers (54%) disagree. Willingness to agree to give up data privacy and data security in exchange for convenience when shopping online was higher in younger age groups compared to older age groups.
Consumers display concerns regarding the trustworthiness of social media platforms. When asked how much they trust social media platforms consumers say that they trust social media platforms to some extent but prefer to make purchases through other channels (21%), have concerns about the trustworthiness of social media platforms and prefer not to make purchases through them (21%) and have never considered making a purchase through a social media platform (21%).
Humans Are Looking to Connect with Humans, Not Chatbots
Consumers show slight hesitancy and ambivalence regarding the usefulness of chatbots noting that they often misunderstand their queries. Consumers also highlight the need for the ability to escalate their query to a human representative when needed.
A little over half of consumers (51%) say that they have not interacted with chatbots while shopping online.
When asked how they view chatbots in terms of their usefulness when seeking assistance during online shopping, consumers say that they feel neutral, finding both chatbots and human representatives to be equally helpful (26%) and that they are not helpful at all, and they prefer human representatives (23%). Consumers in the United Kingdom (27%) and the United States (26%) were more likely to say that chatbots are not helpful at all and that they prefer human representatives over chatbots than their counterparts in Germany (15%). Consumers in Germany (24%) were the most likely to say that chatbots are somewhat helpful, having a slight preference for chatbots compared to consumers in the United Kingdom (16%) and the United States (15%).
When asked to specify when chatbots have not been useful during their interaction, consumers say that chatbots misunderstand / misinterpret their queries (42%), are unable to handle complex or specific queries (37%) and lack options for escalation to human support when needed (33%). Women (46%) were a little more likely than men (38%) to say that chatbots misunderstand / misinterpret their queries.
Nearly seven in ten consumers say that it is important (69%) regarding their preference to interact with a real human representative rather than a chatbot when seeking assistance during the online shopping process.
When asked how interested they are in using chatbots as a means of assistance during their online shopping experience, consumers are most likely to say that they are neutral (29%) and interested (23%). Interest in using chatbots was the highest in Germany (37%) compared to the United Kingdom (27%) and the United States (26%). Interest in using chatbots was slightly more common amongst men (34%) compared to women (27%).