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AI and AR to Dominate the Future of Shopping – But Won’t Close Physical Stores by 2041; Klarna Finds

Artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR) and robots will likely dominate both the in-store and online landscape, with shopping services like Klarna already integrating AI personalisation into their products. To gain a better understanding of the future of shopping habits, the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) firm ran a study of more than 5,000 consumers across five countries.

Klarna looked to examine shopping habits 18 years from now with its study – to understand more about when Gen Zers turn 40 and become the dominant consumers alongside Millennials. Augmented Reality (AR) will elevate the future in-store shopping experience.

The vast majority of Gen Z (81 per cent) and Millennials (75 per cent) expect AR to enhance their in-store shopping experience, while 33 per cent think this technology will eventually become standard across retail stores.

Meanwhile, Klarna found that VR will not replace the real-life shopping experience. Less than half of Gen Z (41 per cent) and Millennials (38 per cent) believe that shopping in VR actually surpass the real-life shopping experience within the next two decades.

Overall, 52 per cent of consumers indicated they will still opt to shop in physical stores instead of online (33 per cent) as far as the year 2041. However, less than half (44 per cent) of Gen Z believe they will try clothes in the same way as today. Instead, 40 per cent want to use virtual dressing rooms, 18 per cent want AR, and 23 per cent will rely on AI to advise which clothes best fit their body and fashion style.

Will robots actually add to personalisation offerings?

Well-mannered robot fashion advisors and virtual personal shopping assistants could also prove to be in high demand. Fifty per cent of Gen Z respondents were open to the idea of a robot approaching them in-store to take their measurements and recommend styles, with an additional 21 per cent considering it depending on how the robot looks and behaves. In addition, 34 per cent want access to virtual ‘personal shoppers’ that provide recommendations based on their fashion style and taste when they shop online.

Enhanced personalisation also proved to be a desire of 70 per cent. Forty-two per cent are sure it will become more personalised, both in-store and online.

Fifty-seven per cent of consumers of all ages agree with the prediction that the majority of physical stores will be completely cash-free in 18 years’ time. Thirty-three per cent of Gen Z also believe that this move will take place as soon as the five years.

David Sandström, chief marketing officer at Klarna shopping
David Sandström, chief marketing officer at Klarna

David Sandström, chief marketing officer at Klarna, commented: “In the Western world, approximately 80 per cent of all online purchases are made through search, while the remaining 20 per cent are based on personalised recommendations. In contrast, in China, 80 per cent of online purchases are driven by personalised recommendations.

“This study confirms that shoppers in the Western world desire a comparable shopping experience, which is now available on the Klarna app feed, powered by AI and purchase history data. The next generation of consumers will expect a highly personalised shopping experience where products find them instead of the other way around.”

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