Many Americans engage with robots while shopping but don’t think they improve the experience: survey

A little less than half of Americans (48%) are less likely to agree robots could improve in-person shopping, according to a Harris Poll/Retail Brew survey.
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From left to right: Lovot, Ballie, Rollbot, Digit, Alphabot. Image by Francis Scialabba

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If ChatGPT has taught us anything, it’s that people like quick solutions to their problems. Retailers across the spectrum are upping their tech, using robots in particular, to better cater to the needs of consumers. But how widespread exactly is robot-human interaction in a shopping context?

As Retail Brew has covered, retailers are using robots to automate tasks and processes on the back end to streamline their operations, but consumers are interacting with robots and technology in their day-to-day shopping experiences at a less frequent pace than retailer adoption. It’s a gap that retailers want to close for technological investments to pay off.

Do the robot: When thinking about their shopping experiences, nearly half of Americans (45%) report engaging with a chat box or other AI technology when seeking out customer service, according to a Harris Poll/Retail Brew survey of 2,080 US adults. However, less than half of respondents (48%) agree that robots could improve in-person shopping.

  • Almost a quarter (23%) report sometimes or often seeing robots during their shopping experiences.
  • Fewer respondents report sometimes or often receiving food deliveries to their residence by robot or drone.
  • But a majority of shoppers believe robots could improve food (57%) and non-food (62%) delivery services.

Quick flashback to a 2021 Harris Poll/Retail Brew survey that found only 30% of respondents said they want more technology integrated in their shopping experience, while a majority (57%) wanted less, or for it to stay the same.

In 2023, Americans believe robots are most useful in supply chain and fulfillment processes (31%), followed by delivery services (21%), customer service (11%), and purchasing products (10%). However, roughly a fifth (21%) believe that robots would not be useful anywhere in the shopping experience.

Looking into the future: Just under a fifth of respondents (19%) report that they would be more likely to make a purchase from an establishment that uses robots, as opposed to 43% who report no effect on their likelihood of buying from such businesses, and 37% who would be less likely.

  • A slight majority of Americans surveyed (55%) report being worried about automation affecting jobs in retail, customer service (54%), delivery (52%), and supply chain/fulfillment (51%).
  • Plus, 33% of employed respondents are worried about automation affecting their own jobs.
Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

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