From virtual reality to 3D printing: the tech shoppers use to avoid the high street

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With fears of the Coronavirus still fresh in consumers’ minds, new research from Valtech suggests that UK shoppers are increasingly open to innovative digital technologies designed to help them browse and buy from the safety of their homes. The research, which surveyed over 1000 UK consumers, found that 64% are still attempting to avoid the high street due to ongoing concerns around Covid-19. 

According to Valtech’s research, nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) are now open to the idea of browsing stores virtually through a VR headset. 

Nearly two thirds of shoppers (64%) also say that they would be open to 3D printing products from home, allowing them to avoid physical stores and even click and collect services. Those in the 55 – 64-year-old bracket were particularly open to trialling such technologies. 

When they must visit shops, consumers are also keen to use the latest technology to minimise their physical contact. In fact, 60% of those surveyed said that they would be happy to see the introduction of China-style “smile to pay” systems, removing the need for cash, cards or even contactless payments. 

Commenting on these findings, Chris Daplyn, UK managing director at Valtech, said: “The way that Covid-19 has changed consumer attitudes to both retail and technology is staggering. Ideas like ‘smile-to-pay’ which once would have been totally unacceptable to UK consumers are now in increasingly high demand. 

“For retailers this means big changes. With many brands still struggling to keep up to date with basic technologies like click and collect or one-click purchasing, the sudden shift to innovative technologies like VR is going to take its toll. Brands that want to keep up with growing consumer demand need to rethink the way they provide experiences to customers, and that means being open to experimenting with the latest technologies. 

“Before they can do that though, brands need to get the basics right. A lot of these tools rely heavily on having access to customer data and having the right digital ecommerce infrastructures in place. If UK retailers don’t get the fundamentals right, they’ll always be playing catch up with these larger trends.”