Demand for autonomous retail accelerates

A new study by Sensei finds that the majority of Brits want the convenience of an autonomous shopping experience

More than two thirds (70%) of Brits would welcome checkout-free shopping, according to a new survey from Sensei, a European provider of autonomous stores.

The report, ‘A New Beginning For Retail’, which examines consumer attitudes towards checkoutless stores, shows that 60% of UK shoppers want the option of a checkoutless experience via a hybrid model. A further 10% of Brits would favour a fully autonomous shopping experience.

The report, which was conducted in collaboration with Ben Marder, Director of Research at the University of Edinburgh Business School, also reveals the biggest ‘turn offs’ for consumers when it comes to returning to the high street post pandemic.

Almost a third (32%) of Brits admitted they are put off visiting the high street due to overcrowded stores, while a further fifth (20%) are deterred from physical retail spaces because of limited product options.

The findings illustrate the growing demand for autonomous stores in the UK, as almost half (47%) of those surveyed said they want to be able to shop without checkouts in the future.

Of the factors driving consumers towards autonomous retail, respondents cited a faster shopping experience (61%), not having to queue in order to pay for goods (60%), and the convenience of checkoutless stores to being open 24/7 (50%) as the top reasons for moving towards this new technology.

With two-thirds of respondents demanding stores to have a checkoutless experience in addition to the traditional checkout experience, it’s clear that inclusivity is key to the success of this emerging technology. As the retail industry accelerates towards an autonomous future, it is imperative that the less digitally-savvy in society are not left behind.

Vasco Portugal, CEO at Sensei said: “We are really proud to have facilitated this study for the retail industry. Our goal is to provide retailers with the practical insights about autonomous store technology, based on the opinions of their customers, to help them make strategic decisions about how to implement this technology that is now bursting onto UK high streets.”

“We are committed to supporting retailers as they start to adopt and expand their autonomous retail offering. This report spotlights the demand for this technology to be inclusive. The hybrid model allows retailers to transform a store into one that can support a checkoutless experience, whilst also offering a checkout desk for the few that can’t immediately switch to the autonomous experience.”

As with all new innovation, the report did highlight that there is a need to better educate consumers on autonomous retail technology. Respondents noted concerns around being incorrectly charged (54%) and data privacy (45%). It is clear that this information gap must be bridged, in order to bring all customers along on the autonomous retail journey.

Sensei has the technology to reinvigorate the high street and drive the retail industry into a faster and more convenient future, benefitting both customers and retailers alike. Autonomous technology can be seen powering fully-autonomous stores as well as “hybrid” environments that address the desire for retailers to accommodate some traditional retail elements into modern, autonomous stores.

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