Fashion retailers aiming to embrace data-driven marketing to boost their performance might have to think again after two-thirds (67%) of shoppers said they do not trust fashion brands to act responsibly and to protect their personal information.
In a study commissioned by research consultancy Retail Economics and law firm Penningtons Manches Cooper, more than half (55%) of those surveyed also 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 indicates that many customers – particularly older generations – have strong concerns over data security and privacy.
Overall, just 4% of respondents trust retailers when handling their personal data, although 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 to use a touchscreen device for customer service issues.
Only 13% were keen on the idea of virtual fitting rooms, while just over a 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.
However, age was a major factor: 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-plus group said the same.
Retail Economics chief executive Richard Lim 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."