THE TIPPING POINT OF TRANSFORMATION
The Retail and Consumer industry has seen a number of repetitions of existing technological innovations over the years. However, the real transformation begins when these innovations are adopted at scale.
The evolution of the chatbot to the conversational bot is predicted to become the tipping point that will transform retail and e-commerce. What’s more, chatbots are also referred to as conversational commerce and are generally powered by AI. Adoption of this interactive technology has been driven by the popularity of social media and messaging apps. Not to mention the dominance of mobile technologies.
THE POWER OF INFORMATION
Without doubt consumer engagement using personalized chatbots is exceeding that of mailers. There are many advantages to adopt bots as the new shop-assistant and/or online shopping concierge. Firstly, AI technology is becoming smarter at integrating emotional intelligence. Certainly, the experience is more personal and specific to the consumer’s lifestyle choices. Conversational bots are on hand 24 hours. These bots draw information from all sources therefore anticipating knowledge gaps eg. the availability of stock. In the USA these virtual engagement platforms connect 2 to 5 times more customers and increase revenue in stores between 7 and 25%.
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
Consumers are becoming more accustomed to curated and personalized experiences. The retail experience should be no different. Consequently, this has led to the trend of on-demand apparel manufacturing. Namely the automated manufacturing of custom sizes, patterns and fabrics. Accordingly, continued investment into scanning technologies has increased to cater for all sizes and body types.
THE MODERN SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
The online shopping experience has become more familiar. That is to say a hybrid experience of buying and paying online is expected. The increase in efficiency and the ability to use the data to improve logistics and anticipate what is needed is transforming the management of stores. Ultimately, this approach will be adopted by mass markets becoming the new selling norm. One example is the use of self driving cars that bring the customer to the store or carry out local deliveries.
INNOVATIONS IN SEARCH METHODS
To better serve the customer, huge investments have been made into search technologies such as visual and voice search. Voice search will replace using text search by up to 40% in the next 3 years. These virtual search tools are now becoming features of apps and as part of interactions with devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.
THE VIRTUAL SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Other technologies that are seeing a steady evolution are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). These technologies offer an omni-channel shopping experience. VR headsets are used by customers to imagine possible future scenarios when purchasing products. This innovation is increasing sales by up to 60%.
Notably, the immediate retail revolution is driven by machine learning. Hence, assisting in embedding smarter data across multiple online customer touchpoints. Mostly to showcase customer-relevant products with immediate purchasing options.
DIGITAL CUSTOMER ID
Lastly, as bricks and mortar stores are still preferred by many, Amazon Go is increasing the roll out of their automated checkout stores. The store uses a combination of technologies from mapping to sensors to facial recognition to allow an effortless shopping experience without queuing.