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The e-commerce revolution combined with the gigantic smartphone industry has altered the retail reality giving an ultimate facelift to the shopping experience. Online marketplaces have taken significant measures to shorten the buying journey for the customers through portals and apps. But perhaps, pushing buttons on the app didn’t suffice the requirements or say greed of the e-tailers and that gave rise to the next big wave of AI-based assisted shopping which is disrupting the online shopping ecosystem.

Smartphone shopping will continue to surge globally over the next few years, as per the latest Ericsson Consumer & IndustryLab Insight report. But the rise of smart shopping assistants will undoubtedly change the way people shop online. The report has highlighted two major disruptive changes in shopping behaviour:

  1. Mobile Shopping has evidently reached mainstream: When the Chinese retailer Alibaba’s Singles’ Day on November 11 last year reported sales worth US$25 billion, of which 90% of transactions were made through mobile. Beyond China as well, smartphone shopping will continue to make strides as the stores have literally found a way to the consumers’ palms.
  2. Trusting digital shopping assistants: Smartphone users have adopted the unorthodox methods of shopping online as they are heavily relying on digital assistants for aspirational personal shopping support. Moreover, the AI-based smart speakers have been gaining popularity as it easily handles the routine household purchases. Shopping through digital voice assistants is expected to top US$40 billion by 2022.

If you bought something online, there is more likely a high probability that you did it through an app or from your smartphone instead of a computer. Even if you made a small purchase through a conventional retail store, chances are you paid through your smartphone and not in cash. Smartphone shopping has clearly triggered more smart shopping. And looks like smart assistants have initiated an uncontrolled chain reaction. Very Soon, choosing the right assistant might be more important than the actual purchasing choice.

Important Key Findings:

The Rise In Smartphone Shopping

  • Out of all, 43% are smartphone shoppers and make purchases directly using their phone every week.
  • 67% of them regularly pay with their phone in stores.

Digital Shopping Assistants 

  • 47% of smartphone shoppers would prefer a service that could automatically restocks everyday items. Home restocking assistants are meant to make automated purchases convenient.
  • 63% of them think that in 3 years most people will have a personal shopping advisor. A Personal Shopping Advisor will provide high-involvement shopping.
  • 48% of smartphone shoppers want help in making shopping decisions easier and 63% want help with price comparison – most likely role of a digital shopping assistant.

Figure 2: Tasks for a home shopping assistant

Physical Stores Should Be Cheaper

  • 36% of smartphone shoppers believe that they should pay lower prices in stores than online if they take the trouble going there.
  • 66% of the respondents consider flexibility as the key benefit of smartphone shopping, not better value.

Stores May Vanish If Not Transformed

  • 69% of AR and VR users think that technology will give smartphones all the benefits of stores in 3 years time. While 64% of AR and VR users think that physical stores will disappear entirely in 3 years as all shopping will take place only through smartphones.

Figure 3: Preferred way to shop across 11 categories

  • Only 15% prefer renting cars to owning them. While 70% think, mostly everyone will rent cars in 3 years. 34% of the respondents think owning too many things is a hassle.

The findings have been reported through an online survey carried out by Ericsson ConsumerLab in January 2018. The sample size was 5,048 which comprised of internet users aged between 15 and 69, in 10 cities around the world.

Voice assistants are pushing customers away from physical stores and will continue to do so in future. According to the study released in Jan 2018 by Capgemini, in next three years, 40% of consumers will use voice assistant instead of company’s website or app or any physical shop.