AI-powered chatbots top list of most disruptive automated experiences in UK shoppers’ buying journeys, according to research by Intellias

  • 25% said chatbots were the most disruptive application of AI when shopping
  • 23% said interactions with AI-powered chatbots were where they would be most likely to abandon a purchase
  • 69% don’t mind retailers using AI to automate repetitive tasks, but don’t want it to replace human interaction
  • 74% of shoppers feel blended experiences of AI and human interaction would always be needed in retail

 AI-powered chatbots and conversational commerce tools, such as voice and virtual assistants, were deemed by UK shoppers as the most disruptive artificial intelligence (AI) applications causing friction in their online shopping experiences, the latest research from Intellias, the software engineering and digital consultancy company. 

Original research of over 1,000 UK shoppers by Intellias showed that UK shoppers found AI chatbots to be the most likely cause of friction when buying online, with 25% agreeing chatbots are the area where AI most disrupts their shopping experiences, followed by automated virtual assistants (23%) and voice assistants (18%).  Meanwhile, a further 23% said that interactions with AI chatbots were the most likely stage in their online buying journeys where they were most likely to abandon a purchase, rising to 29% of Baby Boomers and 26% of Gen X.

Recently, the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) revealed that, while retailers such as Ocado, John Lewis, Costco and Holland & Barrett featured in the top 10 UK businesses for customer service, overall levels of satisfaction with customer service had dipped to an eight-year low.  Dropping to levels last seen in 2015, the ICS report blamed frustration with ‘dysfunctional chatbots’ being unable to effectively solve queries and poor technology applications as critical drivers of friction, suggesting that while tech and AI applications will improve, human elements would need to remain to uphold customer experiences.

Almost half (49%) of the shoppers polled by Intellias said they didn’t mind retailers using AI in their buying journeys as long as it wasn’t clunky.  In comparison, almost seven in ten (69%) aren’t adverse to retailers using AI to automate repetitive or monotonous tasks, but they don’t want it to replace human interaction. 

Going further, almost three-quarters (74%) agreed that a blended experience of both automation delivered through AI and human interaction would always be needed in retail, regardless of how good the AI technology becomes in the future.

Alexander Goncharuk, VP of Global Retail at Intellias, commented: “There’s little doubt that AI – and in particular Gen AI – have had their watershed moment, as the intersection between rapid consumer and business adoption really came to the fore last year.  While there’s no denying the hype curve, AI mustn’t become a go-to catchall for plugging gaps in shopping experiences.”

“Each application of the technology needs to be considered in the context of the entire value chain and only deployed where it can deliver value in a friction-free manner.  And that requires both orchestrating the tech stack in the right way to extract value, as well as looking at the application of AI in the shopper journey as a whole – only then will it deliver both the business benefits to the retailer while enhancing experiences for consumers,” he concluded. 

To learn more about Intellias’ latest ‘GenAI in Retail’ report, which outlines a best-practice blueprint for retailers looking to strategise, pilot and launch successful GenAI programmes, download the report here:


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