A new report from composable commerce leader, commercetools has uncovered a gap between a desire for more personalised and effortless retail experiences and hopes and fears of AI as the tool to deliver them.

The findings reveal that, while 70% of ANZ shoppers demand more personalised experiences from online retailers, they are failing to get the basics right. Inaccurate product photos and descriptions (36%), sudden unavailability of preferred products (32%) and the absence of real-time inventory information (24%) were among the top frustrations.

At the same time, 62% of ANZ shoppers are concerned about AI persuading them to make unnecessary purchases, while 73% of shoppers are concerned about AI replacing people in online customer service.

Consumers are also expecting closer alignment between online and offline experiences from omnichannel retailers, shown in demand for contactless commerce solutions within offline environments, with two in five (40%) of consumers expecting their shopping experience to be 100% contactless in five years. In addition, nearly one-third (28%) of ANZ shoppers agreed that they would be more likely to make a purchase from a retailer that offered contact-free checkout experiences.

There’s a growing appetite for effortless checkout and payment processes, easy-to-navigate digital channels, and real-time stock information, according to commercetools chief revenue officer, Bruno Teuber.

“We’re seeing this globally with our retail customers as they’ve come to rely on the core benefits of composable commerce architectures –– flexibility, scalability, and lowered risks and financial exposure. Consumers’ hesitancy with AI underscores the importance of striking a delicate balance between innovation and addressing consumer concerns through mutually beneficial technology instead of tech hype,” he said.

In the face of cost-of-living pressures, more than half (56%) of ANZ shoppers would pay for brands offering exceptional shopping experiences, underscoring the value they place on seamless, engaging transactions. Moreover, 70% of ANZ shoppers demand personalised experiences from online retailers, with Millennials and Gen Y leading the charge at 88%. 

However, high shipping costs (70%), lack of value-for-money offerings (48%) and concerns over security and privacy (46%) are the top three factors for cart abandonment. While there is growing demand for contactless commerce, only two in five foresee a fully contactless shopping experience in the next five years. Consumers see a gap here between their expectations and reality, with 24% expressing dissatisfaction with checkout speeds and front-end experience issues.

The findings also highlight a reliance on social media throughout the shopping journey, with 66% of shoppers engaging with brands on social media for shopping purposes, and over half (51%) of ANZ shoppers utilising platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to make these purchases. Gen Z emerges as a driving force in this trend, with a staggering 79% engaging in social commerce. 

Despite limited first-hand experience, there is growing interest in immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for online shopping experiences. So far, only a fraction of ANZ shoppers have utilised AR or VR technology for shopping (18%), and there is a notable generational disparity with Gen Z leading adoption and interest.