Introduction

What is Robots Among Us?

Robots Among Us is Myplanet’s semi-annual report examining consumer comfort with new and emerging technologies. Surveying 75 technologies, the report offers a snapshot look at current sentiments as well as insight into the common trends and themes influencing those opinions.

Who is it for?

Robots Among Us is intended for everyone, but if your business is contemplating new digital implementations or you’re wondering how to give your current offerings the best chance of success, we think you’ll find particular value in it.

This time around we’ve focused on Retail & Commerce. Ambitious digital executives in those arenas may find this report especially worthwhile, but the themes surfaced can be applied to other contexts and offer meaningful insights for those in other industries as well.

Who is it from?

Myplanet works shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the world’s leading brands to create compelling customer experiences, specializing in headless commerce, customer data, and retail data platforms. We believe the intersection of societal readiness and technological ability is what truly dictates the future we can create and Robots Among Us was created to help us understand where that intersection sits. It’s a comprehensive look at how consumers feel about the technologies being presented to them, offering a data-informed perspective on where we are today and where we should go next.

Letter from Myplanet’s CEO,
Jason Cottrell

The last 18 months have permanently altered the tech landscape.

When we first launched the Robots Among Us report, our aim was to surface consumer feelings about the new and emerging technologies having the greatest impact on our lives today. After more than a decade guiding our clients to the right solutions and working with them to build what they truly need, we’d identified a serious gap in the data: information about consumer readiness simply wasn’t there. So we set out to build a dataset that could ground decisions today and help set a course for tomorrow.

Nearly two years in, that’s still our goal. But over the past 18 months, we noticed a profound shift in the technology uptake in one category in particular.

No sector saw as much rapid tech adoption over the last year and a half as retail did. The rates at which retailers were forced to convert their businesses to digital solutions would’ve been unfathomable pre-pandemic—they simply had to have them to survive—and left little time for assessing whether or not consumers were ready for the changes.

And that left us wondering what the long-term impact of those changes would be.

Our aim is to surface information that provides real value, which is why for this report we’ve narrowed our focus. Once again, we’ve surveyed and ranked 75 technologies to determine just how comfortable consumers are with them, but we’ve also done a deep dive into the world of commerce tech this time around. We believe understanding which pandemic-era technologies are here to stay, which ones might not be, and the reasons for consumer readiness or reluctance with those technologies will be some of the most important questions to answer when it comes to economic recovery and business longevity over the next 18 months.

This report can help guide tactics and approaches for introducing new technology solutions to ensure the greatest chance of their success— even in the face of a reluctant consumer.

So read on, dig in, and if you’re interested in learning more, talk to us.

Bot Index Ranking

A ranking of consumer comfort levels with 75 new and emerging technologies.

A minimum of 500 people were asked to rate their level of comfort with each of the technologies surveyed. Based on the results, we ranked the technologies in order of comfort level (from highest to lowest) and gave them a comparative score (from 1-10) based on the percentage of respondents who indicated they would feel comfortable interacting with it.

Robots Among Us Bot Index

Report Overview

The rapid pace of change in the retail and commerce sectors over the past 18 months inspired us to take a closer look at some of the key technologies shaping those spaces. On top of the 75-technology comfort survey, we conducted a deep-dive survey on 10 core technologies in the industry to get a sense not only of what consumers are comfortable with, but why and how they’re forming those opinions.

With additional questions on frequency of use, likelihood of (re-)use, and the factors influencing decisions to try the tech out, we were able to get a clearer picture of how exposure to a technology — both first-hand and through media representations — are influencing consumer comfort levels. By probing the overall impressions of a technology and how it makes consumers feel, we’re able to zero in on the factors that ultimately guide a consumer in their choices, whether they realize it or not. And armed with a set of data-informed insights, we can work to create retail experiences that work for both businesses and their customers.

These are the ten technologies we selected to investigate more deeply, based on the impact they’re having today and the ways they could shape shopping experiences in future:

Cashierless Automated Grocery / Swipe-and-Go Shopping

Loyalty Program App

In-store Facial Recognition

Package Delivery Drone

Self-scan Smart Shopping Carts

Customer Service Chatbot

Geo-fencing

Mobile Wallet

Augmented Reality Shopping

Retail Sales Floor Robot

The Covid Effect?

After more than a year of social distancing policies and avoiding high-touch experiences, we expected to see a surge in readiness for contact-free exchanges enabled by technology, but that wasn’t always the case.
Consumers are still more concerned about privacy, security, and even ease of use when it comes to interacting with these technologies on an ongoing basis. The need to stay 6 feet apart, for the most part, doesn’t hold as much sway.

We also anticipated an outright rejection of AI- and ML-powered technologies because of the increasing awareness around the challenges to getting algorithms right, but the data showed a few surprises in those categories as well. There are significant concerns around privacy, but there are also pockets of opportunity and openness to the tech. When implemented well, consumers are able to see the benefits to them and that shifts their perceptions in important ways. Getting the risk-reward ratio right for consumers will be an uphill battle, but there are signs it can be won.

Easy
Does It

After more than a year of social distancing policies and avoiding high-touch experiences, we expected to see a surge in readiness for contact-free exchanges enabled by technology, but that wasn’t always the case.
Consumers are still more concerned about privacy, security, and even ease of use when it comes to interacting with these technologies on an ongoing basis. The need to stay 6 feet apart, for the most part, doesn’t hold as much sway.

We also anticipated an outright rejection of AI- and ML-powered technologies because of the increasing awareness around the challenges to getting algorithms right, but the data showed a few surprises in those categories as well. There are significant concerns around privacy, but there are also pockets of opportunity and openness to the tech. When implemented well, consumers are able to see the benefits to them and that shifts their perceptions in important ways. Getting the risk-reward ratio right for consumers will be an uphill battle, but there are signs it can be won.

The Great
Unknown

It can be easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new technology—especially in an era where the media reports breathlessly about every minor move the major players make. But understanding your customer base and what they need and want is still the best guide to success going forward.

Introducing new technologies just to keep up with what’s got the most buzz now, before consumers grasp their function and value, can lead to mistrust and uncertainty. Careful introductions that make the benefits for the customer clear will be key to successful implementations of some of the lesser-known technologies.

Report-RAU

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