Digitalization is taking place in all industries. E-commerce, i.e. online shopping, was one of the first “disciplines” and has fundamentally changed our purchasing behaviour over the past two decades. Two thirds of all Germans shop online today, at least occasionally (IfD Allensbach, ACTA). In 2017, sales already amounted to around 50 billion euros (HDE). Even if the share of “interactive trade” (online and mail order) in retail sales was only 13 % in 2017, the trend is clearly upward.

The question is: Which digital helpers can consumers imagine in traditional retailing on site? We asked and subjected various services – some futuristic, some already under test – for the stationary trade to a reality check.

Shop more consciously

We asked a thousand consumers throughout Germany: How would you like the following ‘digital shopping assistants’ if they were available in a real store?

The respondents particularly liked the idea of an app that provides detailed information about the ingredients of certain products. Two out of five consumers would support such a digital service.

Apps that help to check food for ingredients, E-numbers and other details.

Pay faster

From the basic research on stationary retail we know that a long waiting period at the checkout works against a positive shopping experience. Accordingly, we have examined various options for payment in the future. In the meantime, it has also become quite common in Germany for consumers to read in and invoice their purchases themselves at self-scan checkouts. In Apple stores, for example, you can pay not only at the checkout, but simply at every employee in the store. He scans the goods with his digital device, you pay by card, can march out of the shop as soon as you make a purchase and receives the invoice by email.

What if this process were to go even faster, quasi”on the go”?

In fact, the idea of an intelligent shopping trolley performs very well. Would the shopping cart of the future combine the functions “Navigation through the shop”, “Search for products” and “Purchase figures” – and perhaps even secure the cart: One in four of our respondents would love to use it for their purchases. It needs to be checked whether buyers would even be prepared to change their core business in order to benefit from this new service.


Intelligent shopping carts: Equipped with navigation, search and payment functions. An automatic locking and self-braking system secures the purchase.


The “Go concept” is just as popular. Only just under every second person refuses to have sensors in the store immediately register what ends up in the shopping basket in order to debit the purchase amount from their account when they leave the market. One in four would also welcome this concept, which, by the way, is common practice in e-commerce.

Pay without checkout: Sensors register in the store which goods are in the shopping cart. The amount is automatically debited from your account when you leave the market.


And finally, we formulated the question for larger purchases: How would it be if you could conclude financing directly in the shop via app? After all, one in ten thinks this is an attractive idea. Perhaps this approach would be an exciting future option for retailers of high-quality goods to offer customers a new digital service.

Instore financing: Spontaneously finance purchasing in the store. Apply for and confirm the credit via app within a few minutes.

Be (even) more informed

A central differentiating feature of in-store retailing is consultation. But what if there is currently no salesperson available? Or a question just needs to be clarified quickly in passing? Would the co-existence of a human and a digital consultant be an option?

We have examined various services. A quarter of consumers can make friends with the possibility to call up additional information about a product via tablet or smartphone on the shelf – and also call the consultant in the store if required.

Digital information: Tablets provide additional information and availability via barcode scan, add products to the wish list and – if required – call in personnel.


After all, one in five can take pleasure in the idea of ordering their favourite product from a stationary retailer via an order button. The idea became known through the “Dash Button”, again from Amazon. Perhaps this will also lead to customer loyalty in the over-the-counter retail trade of the future?

Order button: Order a previously defined product at the push of a button. Also possible at home (example: Dash button from Amazon).


We didn’t get much enthusiasm with Augmented Reality ideas. The technology has recently become popular through the game Pokemon Go. The real environment integrates seamlessly into the virtual environment on the smartphone or tablet. In retail, for example, a new dress could be tried on digitally. So without the buyer having to change. After all, one in five reaches the idea. Perhaps we simply need more use cases to test the new technologies. In theory, Pokemon Go was no fun for anyone who tried it – at least for a few weeks – could hardly get rid of it.

Augmented reality shopping: Product presentation of a selected product on my mobile phone in a perfect 3D image or – for example with clothing – directly on my own body.


Less accepted is the idea that the consultant is immediately replaced by a robot. Every second person refuses, only 16% agree that they would accept a robot at their side.

Robot assistant: A robot that supports me in the shop in my search for products.

More convenient delivery

There could also be innovations in delivery. The delivery of food in a one to two hour window – for an extra charge – performs particularly well. One in five welcomes the idea.

Delivery of food within one or two hour windows for an extra charge.


Consumers also seem to be used to pick-up boxes, known for example from the DHL parcel station. Here too, one in four would find the collection of (chilled) food attractive.

Smart pick-up boxes: Set up in heavily frequented places where food can be picked up chilled, as well as car keys for rental cars, laundry from the cleaning service etc. The box opens with an individual code.


If in future autonomous vehicles or even drones scurry across the street or through the air to take shopping home, a good one in five will open the door. Because 22 % of consumers can already imagine such a service today.

Self-propelled: Autonomous vehicles, drones or robots take over delivery in a short time. The shipment history can be tracked via app.

Eat smarter

We have also faced the futuristic question of whether food should be digitised. In fact, the group of optimists is also relatively large here: 24% think that the idea that food will only contain ingredients in the future that fit the individual needs of the consumer is very good.

Intelligent foods contain only compatible ingredients – individually adapted to a person – and thus improve his or her health.


People are more critical if the product is to be designed and printed in the future. For example, only one in seven still advocates a candy that comes from the 3D printer. A total of 60% are totally opposed to this.

3D printers that allow you to design and print sweets yourself.

To the study

In January 2018, 1,000 men and women aged 18-69 from Germany were interviewed for the study. The study is representative by age and gender. We will be happy to answer any further questions you may have.

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