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Oct 3, 2018
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Fashion retailers favour sexy tech that consumers don't want - Klarna report

Oct 3, 2018

Many fashion retailers are jumping headfirst into new ‘sexy’ technology but their enthusiasm often clouds their judgement and they’re giving consumers what they’re not necessarily interested in having.

Sexy technology may grab headlines but is it what consumers want in fashion stores?

That’s the damning assessment of a new report from payments provider Klarna and Censuswide that shows half of fashion retailers want to invest in high tech features such as augmented and virtual reality, even though four in five shoppers say they wouldn’t be interested in using it.

Of course, consumers are often hugely resistant to new tech ideas until they see them in action and realise the potential benefits, but it nonetheless does show retailers are possibly investing in areas that aren’t needed.


The researchers surveyed 2,000 shoppers and 50 decision-makers in fashion retail and said that “fashion retailers seem to be dazzled by the latest tech trends, while they still find the fundamentals a challenge.” A fifth of these retailers admit to still struggling to get the basics right when it comes to digitisation, we’re told, and a further 42% agree that they’re so focused on getting online right that in-store technology isn't a priority.

That’s a mistake as 73% of shoppers say that they value shopping in store, as it offers a human experience that can’t be recreated online. “In short, retailers shouldn’t be writing off the value that a good in-store experience can bring to their business,” Klarna said.

But what do else shoppers actually want? What they’re interested in includes technology that takes measurements, so they can be sure items fit before buying (42%), and access to the same level of discounts in-store as they can access online (49%). Meanwhile 31% want to be able to pay later after they’ve left the store or pay after delivery, without their card.

For retailers, the priorities when asked what they would like to integrate in the future include online personas and avatars (38%), but shoppers prefer to get a better variety of clothes (28%). Retailers also want to create virtual stores to be viewed online (32%) but only 10% of consumers say they’d like to see the same.

Retail futurologist Howard Saunders said of this: “The advance of technology is inevitable, and it’s clear that customers are undecided as to what the advantages of some of the latest technology is. What this research shows us is that retailers may enthuse and embrace technology as a means of reviving sales, but unless customers can see the benefits personally, it could be a wasted investment. A muted response to technology like drone delivery, smart fabrics and virtual store assistants shows that removing the personal element from fashion retail could be a mistake. The future is coming at us fast, but it’s worth remembering we’ll still be human when it arrives.”

The research also showed a growing demand for a more personalised shopping experience that combines the feeling and advantages of in-store shopping with the convenience and choice of online. Some 49% of shoppers say that when they shop in store they miss the personalised offers they receive online and 46% think online shopping is more convenient than in-store. It all means that retailers must take note that no single channel is the key to success, “combining elements of both is what matters.”


Klarna’s UK general manager Luke Griffiths said that while fashion retailers have a good track record for adopting the latest technology and doing it well, some work still needs to be done to ensure retailers are delivering what shoppers want. “What we can see here, is that shoppers want the basics to be done better, and they don’t want their preferred fashion brands to favour fads over function, through the introduction of tech that doesn’t improve their shopping experience,” he explained.

Interestingly too, he thinks this doesn’t mean every retailer needs both an online and offline presence, but “it means tapping into what consumers want and adapting to the channel in question. For example 61% of shoppers say it bothers them that shopping online takes longer because they can’t touch or see items before buying. The answer could be offering body scanning technology, or it could be offering services such as pay-later that allow consumers to try items at home before payment.”

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