South African shoppers show they're ready for robots... and super fast delivery
Almost a third (32%) of consumers surveyed globally by PwC in its survey “From mall to mobile: Adjusting to new consumer habits” says they plan to buy an artificial intelligence (AI) device, including robots or automated assistants, with retailers watching closely as ‘voice commerce’ develops in the home.
In South Africa, 44.3% stated they plan to buy an AI (artificial intelligence) device in the near future according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights survey, which assesses the shopping behaviour, habits and expectations of over 22,000 consumers in 27 countries, including 1,000 from South Africa.
The study reports that 10% of respondents globally (South Africa: 7.7%) already own AI devices, such as robots and automated personal assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home, and 32% globally (South Africa: 44.3%) said they plan to buy one, in a review of the report carried by BusinessTech.co.za
Anton Hugo, Retail and Consumer Industry Leader, PwC Africa said: “While it is still early days, particularly in South Africa, the outlook for AI devices is promising. AI is moving rapidly into the retail and consumer sectors. Increasingly, more and more consumers globally are using so-called ‘voice commerce’ on home-based devices to replenish household supplies and groceries.
“The technology is also transforming logistics and delivery, as well as revolutionising how companies profile and segment customers.”
Across all markets, early adopters tend to be men, aged 18-34, who are open to collaborative consumption, less likely to take action to reduce the risk of online security issues and fraud, and less price conscious.
These early adopters seem to be looking for opportunities to spend money and enjoy new experiences. They have an upbeat attitude about the economy and personal spending plans, and they are more likely to spend on culinary classes, subscriptions and fitness classes.
Shopping through mobile devices and physical stores on the rise
In addition to the growing popularity of AI, mobile devices are gaining traction with global shoppers. Mobile purchasing has more than doubled in six years to 17% of all shopping, and is likely to soon overtake computer purchases (20%), which now accounts for only one in five purchases made.
Convenience is also playing a part, with half of all respondents using smartphones to pay for purchases in store.
“The survey results clearly indicate that online shopping is catching on rapidly with South African consumers,” Hugo said. Thirty-three percent of South African shoppers buy products online on a monthly basis. In addition, 23.8% of South African consumers buy products online using their mobile phone/smartphone.
But despite the dominance of the big online retailers, there is still room for physical stores to thrive. For the fourth year in a row, the number of respondents globally who say they shop at a bricks-and-mortar store on a weekly basis has risen, this year by 3% to 44%.
In South Africa, 30.6% of consumers said they shop in-store on a weekly basis to buy products, other than groceries.
“Physical shopping is still very much in as an activity for South African consumers. Bricks-and-mortar have remained a key channel for shoppers,” Hugo said.
On data privacy, the survey reflects the ongoing tension for retailers on customer data. 41% (South Africa 40.3%) of respondents globally are comfortable with retailers monitoring their shopping habits to tailor special offers for them, but conversely, over a third (37%) of global consumers (South Africa 11.9%) are protective about their privacy, and opposed to retailers identifying when they are nearby and targeting them with offers.