NEWS28 June 2017

Half of UK consumers find artificial intelligence ‘creepy’

Europe News Retail Technology Trends UK

UK – While UK consumers are mostly accepting of technological advances, 55% find artificial intelligence (AI) ‘creepy', according to research from RichRelevance.

AI crop

RichRelevance, which provides omnichannel personalisation for retailers, has released its third annual Creepy or Cool study, looking at consumer attitudes towards digitally-enhanced shopping experiences. 

The survey gathered responses from over 3,500 consumers in the UK, US, France and Germany. It revealed that UK consumers are open-minded about retailers incorporating more technology into the shopping experience, and the vast majority ( 80%) are willing to give access to more personal data if it will improve the shopping experience. 

The top five ‘cool’ technologies, according to UK consumers, are: 

  1. Fingerprint scanning that allows shoppers to pay for goods and get automatic home delivery ( 56%) – saw an 11% increase in favour compared to 2016 results
  2. The ability to search and order products using voice-recognition technology also proved popular – with a 45% ‘cool’ vote from UK shoppers, 53% from France and 44% from German shoppers
  3. Interactive changing room mirrors. Screens in changing rooms that suggest complementary products received 44% of the UK ‘cool’ vote. But UK consumers weren’t as enthusiastic as their German and French counterparts, who said it was 55% and 59% ‘cool’ respectively
  4. Contactless shopping. Instead of checking out at a till, shoppers simply leave the store with their items and their account is charged contactlessly. This concept proved popular across Europe, with the majority of all respondents considering it ‘cool’ (France 48%, Germany 44%, UK 40%)
  5. Robots guiding shoppers to products in store aisles – 34% of UK consumers thought this would be ‘cool’ (compared to 53% in France)

The top five ‘creepy’ technologies were revealed to be: 

  1. Retailers using data/AI to choose and order products for shoppers without human input was deemed the most ‘creepy’ prospect ( 55%)
  2. In-store facial recognition technology that relays shoppers’ preferences to staff was seen as creepy by the majority ( 54%) of respondents, but attitudes may be changing. This year 27% respondents said it was ‘cool’ – a three-fold increase on 2016
  3. Robots guiding shoppers to products within stores divided consumers with 45% of respondents saying it was ‘creepy’
  4. AI/chatbot-led customer service was deemed ‘creepy’ by the majority of all global consumers (UK 42%, France 42%, Germany 54%)
  5. Contactless shopping divided consumers – re-appearing in the top five creepy innovations for almost a third ( 31%) of UK respondents

“Customer experiences are driving loyalty across all (retail) sectors, sometimes more so than price," said Diane Kegley, chief marketing officer at 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.”