2019 will be a year that will empower customers with shopping abilities like never before. The time is ripe when retail experiencewill go far beyond the value of products and will focus more on customer experience (CX). Brands must make shopping smooth; with infusion of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Customer Intelligence (CI), Machine Learning (ML), and IoT technologies. The need of the hour is to have an augmented shopping experience both in-store and online. The question that begets from here is how retailers can make 2019 the year of customer shopping enablers.
Ways to Create New Customer Experiences
The recent progression of retail has made it clear that technology is indispensable for success. However,using technology just for the sake of it will not take brands anywhere. Retailers must be innovative while blending offline and online retail consumer experiences and focus on addressing customer pain points.A solution like PRIOS is the need of the hour to offer customers a phygital experience.
Let us glance through some of the ways in which retailers will enable customers in 2019:
Site Search will become smarter
- “Product findability” will have extensive use by leveraging AI
- Higher personalized product recommendations for customers
- Customers will look for products through clicks and not taps
Big brands like Amazon, Macy’s, ASOS, and Wayfair are successfully foraying into the realm of visual search.
An apt use case would be how Amazon.com Inc has added Scout to their browsing option. With this new option consumers are able to see photos of a plethora of products and they just have to click a thumb up or thumbs down to indicate interest. When a consumer clicks on thumbs up icon, immediately the product page is loaded with products that have similar attributes. In fact, Scout is a visual way to shop without words.
Similarly, Pinterest’s visual search strategy, “Visual Lens” seems effective. It allows users to take pictures from the real world and search for relevant content (Pins) in Pinterest. The result is visual searches in Pinterest has grown by 140% from February 2017 to February 2018.
Shopping made easy with Social Media
- The concept of “buy button” into social media apps will become rampant in the current year
- Customers will easily checkout from the app itself and complete the purchase
Instagram is already leading the trend with their newly introduced checkout feature. The new feature allows users to checkout right from Instagram without having to leave the app to a web browser. Result is enhanced convenience of purchase and hence increased sales.
Flexible Buying Options
- No more waiting in long queues for checkout
- More options of online and pick up in-store and buy in-store and get delivery of goods at their homes
- Increasingly blended customized, and seamless checkout experiences across channels
Nike’s new NYC Flagship is an excellent case study where shopping is as frictionless as possible. With the Nike Instant Checkout you will just have to scan the product and buy. No more waiting in long queues, just checkout from the App and you are done. In fact, quite a few Nike Instant Checkout Stations are available throughout Nike NYC so that customers can easily bag their purchases and leave the store.
Mobile Assisted Payments and Checkouts
- Retailers will make payments possible through dedicated retailer app in-store
- Brands will merge payment, promotions, and loyalty thereby increasing its popularity among shoppers
- More instances of “scan and buy” features so that shoppers can point at items and then buy it online from the same retailer
Infusion of Augmented Reality (AR) in Retail
- Increased use of Augmented Reality (AR) for enhanced consumer experience
- AR enabled shopping will allow consumers to have:
- more information about product
- increased personalized offers
- more options for financing and payment
- product bundles, and
- more number of reward programs
Brands like Sephora, Lacoste, and Magnolia have already experimented with Augmented Reality in 2018 primarily because around 61% consumers prefer stores that offer AR experiences and around 40% of the consumers are ready to shell out more money if they can experience a product through AR.
Emergence of Virtual Aisles
- Increased uses of mobile devices and augmented reality to create virtual aisles which will enable shoppers have a look at a larger online inventory
- Brick-and-mortar stores will become more like experience centers focusing more on engaging customers and showcasing the brand instead of just closing the sale then and there
To conclude, 2019 will see an increase in personalized shopping approaches. This is because a study by Dan O’Shea says that around 63% of the customers surveyed will prefer personalized shopping experiences.The retail ecosystem will integrate shopping in such a way that it becomes a delightful experience for consumers and technology will be the major enabler behind this.
The article has been penned down by Abhishek Mahajan, Sr. Manager – Retail, Aspire Systems