Two-thirds (67%) of shoppers do not trust fashion retailers to act responsibly and to protect their personal data, new research has found.
A report commissioned by research consultancy Retail Economics and law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper revealed that 55% of respondents indicated that, as online product recommendations are typically “inappropriate”, they do not see the benefits of providing personal data.
While fashion brands are investing heavily in digital technology to move closer to achieving personalised experiences for every customer, the research indicated that customers – particularly those who are older – have concerns over data security and privacy and are wary about the use of their personal data.
Only 4% of respondents trust retailers when handling their personal data. However, 23% of younger customers are less concerned about sharing data.
More than half of the respondents said they would be more loyal to stores that offered a “meaningful in-store experience”. Friendly, knowledgeable staff were seen as a key part of this, and almost half said they did not want to be helped by a robot or use a touchscreen device for customer service issues.
Only 13% were keen on the idea of virtual fitting rooms, while just over one-third said they would not be put off shopping in a clothing store that displayed extended product ranges but only offered delivery of purchases.
While a range of technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence, are beginning to be used to create personalised recommendations, half of respondents said they would be unwilling to share personal data such as body shape, weight or height to enhance product recommendation accuracy. Age was a factor in this: nearly half of 18-to-24-year-olds said the discovery of new products was influenced by recommendations on their smartphone, while just 16% of the 65+ group said the same.
Richard Lim, Retail Economics chief executive said: “The pace of technological disruption in retail is not set to slow down, with disruptive technologies forecast to be engrained in the sector over the next five years. The experience economy will continue to gain traction as well, as consumers become disenchanted with the abundance of goods they have access to.
“However, the future customer journey is underpinned by data. And if retailers and brands cannot build enough trust to capture sufficient shopper information to personalise, then the deeper engagements that will help retail experiences thrive over the next decade will be undermined.”
The report, Awareness and Research, is the first in a series of four reports commissioned to gain a better understanding of customer attitudes to issues including automated services, sharing personal data and the ongoing importance of good in-store experience.