U.S. consumers increasingly value a “contactless” shopping experience, and many say they’d be just fine never setting foot inside a brick-and-mortar store again, according to a survey of more than 2,000 consumers by 3D vision system company Sense Photonics.

The survey of U.S. adults was conducted for Sense by the The Harris Poll and found that 70% of Americans would prefer a “completely human-free, contactless shopping experience.” What’s more, 72% said they are more likely to shop at retailers that offer contactless, curbside order pick-up, and 35% said they would be okay with never making a retail purchase in-store again.

The results underscore the growing need for automation across retail operations and show that retailers already working toward those goals have a leg up on the competition, according to Sense.

“These findings suggest that big-box retailers, which are restructuring their traditional physical stores into warehouses and fulfillment centers, may be best equipped to accommodate radically altered consumer preferences without alienating those who prefer conventional shopping methods,” the researchers said in a report released this week.

Technologies that can automate industrial and commercial processes can help speed and streamline order fulfillment, for instance, allowing retailers to meet customers’ shifting demands. Big box retailers, in particular, are applying sensors and similar technologies in the stockroom, on the floor, and at the point-of-sale.

“Through the introduction of advanced multi-application sensors capable of scanning warehouses, tracking individual items, and enabling order fulfillment or delivery autonomously via robot, retailers can quickly transition to a distance-friendly, data-driven automated business model accounting for critical processes in front-end sales and back-end order fulfillment,” the researchers also wrote.


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