US shoppers sound off on creepy vs cool

Mobile technology is fueling retailers' ability to personalize the shopping experience, but not all efforts are greeted by shoppers with the same enthusiasm. Some initiatives are considered "cool" and others deemed "creepy," according to a new study.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of U.S. consumers use their mobile phone to shop – a number that's even higher among millennials (79 percent). And while many shoppers are open to new mobile features, they also want to choose where and how they engage.

The ability to scan products on a mobile device while in stores was considered cool by shoppers. As was getting a digital coupon following a store visit for an item considered but not purchased. Product recommendations on a receipt were also a positive with shoppers.

Millennials ranked each feature more enthusiastically than the the general population.

Most were neutral on some location-based features such as having personalized product information, relevant content, recommendations and discounts pop up on a mobile device while walking the aisles. Digital screens in dressing rooms that recommend products were cool with just 41 percent of the overall survey group and 49 percent of millennials.

Facial recognition and being greeted by name while in stores thanks to technology was considered decidedly creepy by all shoppers.

"As retailers rush to deliver a store experience that merges digital technologies, mobile phone and the physical aisle, they must walk a fine line between an elevated – or an eerie – experience," according to a report from personalization platform RichRelevance. "There is no one-size-fits all approach, and consumer comfort levels vary depending on where and how technology is deployed. Age is also a major factor, with millennials expressing stronger opinions on both creepy and cool features."

Still, much of this technology is in its early stages. As shoppers become accustomed to mobile features, attitudes could well change.

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