British consumers want innovative retail technology if it reduces theft and provides product discounts

06/20/2018 London

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, Ltd (TSE: 6501).

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.”

About Hitachi Consulting
Hitachi Consulting is the global solutions and professional services organisation within Hitachi Ltd., a global innovation leader in industrial and information technology solutions and an early pioneer of the Internet of Things. Hitachi Consulting is a business integrator for the IoT era and a catalyst for digital transformation. Using our deep domain knowledge, we collaborate with clients to help them innovate faster, maximise operational efficiency and realise measurable, sustainable business and societal value. As a consulting-led solutions company, we can help you leverage data as a strategic asset to drive competitive differentiation, customer loyalty and growth. Visit hitachiconsulting.com.

About Hitachi, Ltd
Hitachi, Ltd. (TSE: 6501), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, delivers innovations that answer society’s challenges with our talented team and proven experience in global markets. The company’s consolidated revenues for fiscal 2016 (ended March 31, 2017) totalled 10,034 billion yen ($89.3 billion). Hitachi is focusing more than ever on the Social Innovation Business, which includes power & infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, construction machinery, high functional materials & components, automotive systems, healthcare and others. For more information on Hitachi, please visit the company's website at http://www.hitachi.com.