Survey finds consumers view contactless shopping as both ‘cool’ and ‘creepy’

A survey of consumer attitudes to emerging technologies has found that the majority of both US and European consumers now believe that using fingerprint scanning to pay for purchases is ‘cool’ — but UK and European consumers are divided on the idea of contactless shopping services like Amazon Go, with 40% considering the technology to be ‘cool’ and 31% seeing it as ‘creepy’.

Rich RelevanceThe RichRelevance survey of 3,500 consumers found that, in the US, the top ‘cool’ technologies are:

  • You can search and order products verbally using voice recognition technology, which 46% view as ‘cool’ compared to 22% ‘creepy’;
  • You can use fingerprint scanning to pay for items and get automatic home delivery, all from the store floor, which 46% view as ‘cool’ and 34% view as ‘creepy’.

For US consumers, the survey found that the top ‘creepy’ technologies are:

  • Facial recognition technology identifies you as a loyal customer and relays your preferences to the salesperson in-store (69% ‘creepy’ versus 18% ‘cool’);
  • Companies understand your shopping habits so well that they are able to use artificial intelligence/data to choose and order products on your behalf (69% ‘creepy’ v 15% ‘cool’);
  • Computer programs such as chatbots use artificial intelligence to help you with customer service questions, rather than a real person (50% ‘creepy’ v 23% ‘cool’).

UK and European consumers also included fingerprint scanning and voice recognition in their top five ‘cool’ technologies, along with contactless shopping (France 48%, Germany 44%, UK 40%), interactive changing room mirrors (France 59%, Germany 55%, UK 44%) and robot shopping assistants (53% France, 34% UK).

In terms of most ‘creepy’ technologies, both AI (55%) and facial recognition (54%) made it onto the list in the UK as well as the US.

Driving loyalty

“Overall, US consumers are more creeped out by technology than all the European respondents,” RichRelevance says. “The French are most comfortable with new technologies, followed by UK and then German respondents.”

“Customer experiences are driving loyalty across all (retail) sectors, sometimes more so than price,” says Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance. “This year we are seeing shoppers across the board become more comfortable with technologies that personalise shopping on a one-to-one basis, such as voice recognition, digital product recommendations in changing rooms, and fingerprint scanning for payments.

“The one area where consumers still seem to have real concerns is AI. Companies’ communication around their consumer facing AI initiatives, such as customer service chatbots, clearly needs addressing from a shopper standpoint.”

  • Willam Hugh Murray, CISSP

    It is ironic that “facial recognition” is seen as “creepy.” It is our most widely used identification and authentication technology. Even infants can do it. Until recently, people were much better at doing it than computers but the gap is closing.

    If a computer is asked to recognize only one person, as for example, its owner, it can do that as well as an infant can recognize its mother.

    This application makes the use of computers so much more convenient that we can expect broad acceptance in the next year or two. Other applications will follow.

    Compared to technologies like fingerprints, facial recognition is one that people can do better than a computer, at least for now.