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Almost half of British consumers (44 percent) support innovative technology in supermarkets if it offers them discounts, and a third (33 percent) would approve its use if it reduces store theft, according to a survey by Hitachi Consulting, a subsidiary of Hitachi.

The study of 2,000 British consumers found that new innovations would be welcomed if they could provide product discounts. However, though consumers were happy for new technology to be used in shops, they were concerned about how the technology would be used and what information it would gather. Over half (61 percent) of consumers queried how their data would be used and 59 percent said they did not believe that their data would be used in a valuable way.

“UK consumers have an appetite for new technology in supermarkets, but there are still large hurdles to overcome,” says Pierson Broome, Retail specialist at Hitachi Consulting. “People are still distrustful of how their data will be used, and are also preoccupied with the ‘shallow’ benefits of technology, such as offering discounts, rather than the true transformative potential of innovation.”

Supermarkets are currently lagging behind consumer expectations when it comes to innovative retail technology, with only 21 percent of respondents saying that their supermarket provides them with relevant offers on products and only 22 percent saying that their supermarket understands their preferences well.

With GDPR having recently come into effect, consumers are mindful of their personal data more so now, than ever. However, if the data that retailers use is providing a good customer experience, British consumers are more likely to embrace the technology, particularly if it helps them find discounts on products. For example, nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said they would welcome electronic shelf labels that could provide them with details such as promotions on related items. This level of personalisation appeals to the general consumer, particularly if it improves their shopping experience.

“For bricks and mortar retailers, experimenting with technology-led innovations is the only way to stay ahead of their data-rich online competitors,” concluded Broome. “LiDAR technology, which can track hand movement and direction to anonymously identify what customers pick up from shelves, is one such innovation. This, combined with automated assistance such as AI/machine learning, enables retailers to use customer data to identify trends, issues, or even in-store theft in real time. Without this type of automated assistance, retailers will be inundated with more meaningless data that cannot be used to improve the customer experience.”

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