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52% of retailers feel ill-prepared to support emerging mobile tech, study says

52% of retailers feel ill-prepared to support emerging mobile tech, study says

Author: Robert Williams

Source: Retail Dive 

  • Retailers aren't prepared to support technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) to engage mobile shoppers, per a study that researcher WBR Insights shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer. Only 9% of 100 senior retail executives surveyed said they were able to support these more advanced technologies, while 52% said they weren't prepared.
  • The biggest obstacles to adopting the mobile-based technologies were budget (cited by 64% of executives), a lack of internal resources (55%) and a lack of executive buy-in (42%). Among technologies that retailers are evaluating for implementation in the next two years, AR was cited by 27% of executives, followed by voice recognition (25%) and progressive web apps (22%).
  • Retailers said mobile payments (60%), AI and chatbots (48%) and on-demand same-day services (47%) have the most potential to improve mobile commerce.


WBR's survey indicates that retail executives have long wish lists for mobile tech, but uncertainties about which to implement — coupled with spending restraints — could pose significant hurdles to customer satisfaction. About 70% of retailers said that mobile channels make up less than half of their sales, but mobile commerce is growing increasingly important among retailers with a digital presence, according to WBR.

AI, chatbots and AR/VR currently are used by a small fraction of retailers, but WBR's research suggests that these technologies will become more prevalent as merchants aim to connect with mobile customers. Only 5% of retailers said they use AI or chatbots currently, but about 76% are either rolling out the technology or considering whether to implement it in the next two years. One percent of retailers said they use AR/VR, but 63% are either rolling it out or are considering whether to adopt the tech in the next two years.

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The study recommends that retailers prioritize mobile payments among the technologies they're considering. About one-fourth (24%) of retailers already have a mobile payment solution or are currently rolling one out, while 61% are either evaluating a solution or considering it in the next two years.

Progressive web apps (PWAs), which provide an app-like experience through a mobile browser, are the second-most popular mobile technology for retailers. About one-fifth (21%) of retailers already have a PWA or are currently developing the tech, while 56% are evaluating PWAs to potentially implement in the next two years.

The least popular technologies are biometrics and wearables. Biometrics, which include a range of technologies to identify people by their physical characteristics, haven't been implemented by any retailers surveyed, and another 63% said they aren't focused on working with the technology.

Integration with wearables, a product category that includes smartwatches, fitness trackers and clothing equipped with microchips, also is a low priority. Nearly half (47%) of retailers saying they aren't considering the technology.

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