Shoppers of the future will prioritize real-life buying experiences while craving technological advancements that enhance their overall journey, according to new research by Klarna.
A remarkable 81% of Gen Z and Millennials expect augmented reality (AR) to play a pivotal role in elevating their in-store shopping experiences. Additionally, 65% emphasized the importance of increased personalization in shaping their purchase intent.
While AR emerged as a game-changer, less than half (43%) of Gen Z believed that VR commerce would surpass the real-life shopping experience within the next two decades, indicating a continued preference for in-store engagement.
Klarna, a global payments and shopping service, has been at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) personalization into its shopping services and collaborated with retail expert Kate Hardcastle, MBE, also known as the Customer Whisperer, to explore the future of shopping.
The study included over 5,000 consumers across five countries and included predictions from leading retailers, focusing on shopping habits 18 years from now when Gen Z and Millennials will constitute the dominant consumer groups.
The findings shed light on their predictions for future shopping experiences, with the demand for personalization prominent – 65% of participants expressed a strong desire for more personalized shopping experiences, both in-store and online. Respondents believed that tailored experiences would significantly impact their purchasing decisions, and 36% of them were confident that future shopping experiences would become more personalized.
Physical try-ons may become obsolete with only 53% of respondents anticipated trying clothes on, matching the current trend. Instead, 48% expressed interest in utilizing virtual dressing rooms, while 28% preferred AR for their clothing choices. An additional 23% were open to relying on artificial intelligence to receive recommendations regarding clothing styles that best fit their body type and fashion preferences.
The study also highlighted an increasing demand for robot fashion advisors and virtual personal shoppers. A staggering 59% of participants were receptive to the idea of robots approaching them in-store to take measurements and provide style recommendations.
Additionally, 18% considered this option based on the appearance and behavior of the robot. Moreover, 34% expressed their desire for access to virtual "personal shoppers" who can offer tailored recommendations based on their fashion style and taste during online shopping experiences.
Kate Hardcastle MBE, The Customer Whisperer and independent expert, said: "Technologies like augmented reality have the potential to transform rundown physical shops and revamp the in-store experience for shoppers. Klarna's latest research shows that consumers want greater convenience and a more personalized shopping experience, and seamless technology must be at the heart of this."
The study also highlighted the rise of a cashless society, with 64% of Gen Z'ers and Millennials agreeing that the majority of physical stores would become completely cash-free within the next 18 years.
In terms of sustainability, the research revealed consumers' growing concern for the planet and the circular economy. A significant 52% of participants desired more sustainable fashion in the future, indicating a demand for environmentally friendly clothing options.