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On Black Friday, humans still trump Amazon’s Alexa for now

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On Black Friday, humans still trump Amazon’s Alexa for now


A new survey from IFTTT shows voice shopping hasn’t caught on just yet.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When asked in a new survey whether people would rather go to the mall with friends or just shop at home with a voice assistant like Amazon‘s Alexa, a third of people actually opted for the robot .

Maybe that’s a sign of a drab future when we all become shut-ins and stores cease to exist, but that situation doesn’t seem to be coming just yet. All those Alexa boosters notwithstanding, the survey on US consumer shopping behavior, published Wednesday by the software company IFTTT, found that most people don’t use many new retail technologies and, in some cases, don’t even know what they are.

Which of the below have you utilized while shopping online or in-store? (multi-answer)

One-touch checkout online – 39.76%
Product recommendations from a website – 39.12%
Buy buttons on product images via social media – 9.78%
Mobile wallet (i.e. Apple Pay) – 13.80%
Voice assistant shopping lists (Alexa or Siri) – 4.75%
Self-service kiosks that dispense purchases (i.e. vending machines) – 17.09%
Self-checkout at stores – 79.25%

So, at least for this holiday shopping season, it seems people will be far more likely to browse and buy using mainstream channels — like malls, desktop and mobile — and avoid some of the newer shopping tech, like voice assistants, mobile wallets and buy buttons on social networks.

Even though 36 percent of respondents said they’d rather shop with Alexa or Apple’s Siri than a human, only 5 percent of the 1,033 people surveyed actually have. Just 14 percent said they used mobile wallets like Apple Pay, and 10 percent said they used buy buttons. A survey from consultancy Deloitte from last week also found weak interest for mobile wallet.

Folks were also asked: “Have you ever used a retail chatbot?” Those are automated bots that respond to people’s questions online, such as Domino’s helping folks order a pizza on Facebook Messenger. Sixty-eight percent said they don’t use these bots and 23 percent said they didn’t know what a chatbot even was.

This survey could offer a message for tech-heavy retailers that they still need to educate consumers on why they should use these newer technologies. Amazon, for instance, has been working on building up voice shopping, but so far it seems few are onboard. The company has continually added new features to improve voice shopping, such as a “tell me more” feature to get Alexa to provide more details about a product, and new AmazonFresh groceries ordering.

For traditional retailers, who’ve struggled to adapt to the growth in e-commerce, the survey shows that they still need to figure out what tech is compelling to shoppers to entice them to visit their stores.

“There is no one big thing,” Anne Mercogliano, IFTTT’s vice president of business operations and marketing, said. “It’s not going to be chatbots or voice that are going to solve everything. People are going to want a variety of things.”

That may mean people in the future will be shopping in virtual reality and using chatbots and voice shopping, depending on what they are looking for. But for now, consumers don’t seem interested in the more futuristic stuff. For instance, when asked if they’d trust a robot to do their shopping for them, 82 percent of people said no.

Would you trust a robot to do your shopping for you?

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

‘Alexa, be more human’: Inside Amazon’s effort to make its voice assistant smarter, chattier and more like you.

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Author Ben Fox Rubin

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