There is no question that the shopping experience has changed drastically over the last decade or so. Remember when you had to go to the store to buy something you wanted? Now, with major online retailers like Amazon and virtually every retail company having its own website and online shop, consumers are finding it easier and easier to buy things with the click of a button.
In light of this changing shopping experience, retailers around the world have had to navigate how to stay relevant and how to increase their appeal to consumers. Apparently, 3D printing could play a key role in this effort.
According to a recent survey about shopping and technology by self-service solutions company Interactions, 95% of shoppers said they were eager to buy products that were 3D printed, and 79% said that they would even spend more money at a store that offered product customization through 3D printing.
Evidently, consumers are becoming more interested in buying personalized products and goods that can be manufactured locally, a drastic change from the current dominance of buying mass manufactured goods often made by exploited workers.
Of course, some retail brands have already caught onto this. Sportswear giant Nike, for instance, has spoken about how its shoes could one day be 3D printed in-store or even at home, while Boston-based brand Ministry of Supply recently debuted its 3D knitting technology at its flagship store, allowing people to order custom blazers on the spot.
The survey, called “What Shoppers Want from Retail Technology,” also found that shoppers are generally inclined to buy more from a store that sends them virtual notifications. For instance, 60% of shoppers said that they would likely spend more money at shops that sent them mobile notifications, with many respondents even saying they’d be more likely to make an unplanned purchase because of a mobile notification.
Interestingly, while many people are increasingly worried about the safety of their personal information online, 68% of shoppers interviewed believed that technological advances could lead to increased safety.
Boston-based Ministry of Supply installed a 3D knitting machine at its Boston flagship store
To touch on automation within the retail industry, 62% of the shoppers surveyed said they liked to be greeted in-store by a real person, while only 10% felt they wanted a person to help them at the checkout and 25% said they would happily rely only on technology to answer their queries in-store. What does that mean for the future of retail experiences?
“Consumers want both digital and human interfaces today,” explains Bharat Rupani, president of Interactions. “They desire the integration of technology into their shopping experience, but nothing can truly replace the accessibility of a traditional store associate. The key for retailers is to balance human interaction with technology to streamline and compliment the consumer’s overall retail journey.”
The survey findings are based on information obtained in March 2017 from a representative sample (over 1,000) of men and women aged 18 to 64 across the U.S.