Artificial intelligence and automation have quickly emerged as the key drivers of change in the retail customer experience. When you consider that some predictions estimate that 85% of customer interactions in retail will, in effect, be managed by AI by 2020, it’s really no wonder that it is powering the customer experience in the way it is. Of course, this reflects current consumer trends in the retail space. Consumers want a more streamlined consumer experience, with simple product selection and accessible and efficient customer service channels.
The effects of Artificial Intelligence on retail
Consumers are calling for artificial intelligence to transform and streamline the customer experience. Meanwhile, businesses appreciate that embracing AI technology has to be seen as a priority. Brands can learn much about consumers through the accessibility of data.
The other effects are major. Firstly, ecommerce pure-plays can mimic the use of AI. Furthermore, artificial intelligence can also be used to provide a more personalised experience for the customer. Websites can be personalised and product recommendations can be tailored to individuals – as well as offering a more immediate customer service.
Ultimately, artificial intelligence is powering leads, sales, personalisation, payments and returns. In essence, the entire customer journey is now being navigated through AI.
AI and automation’s key to success is the ability to guide the customer through the journey to the point of purchase. As with most aspects, the real appeal of this to the consumer is the fast access it gives them, allowing them to speedily navigate and search out what they are looking for. Speed has become crucial to a positive customer experience.
Personalising and streamlining customer experiences
In general, the standard of customer experience has risen – so much so, that all retailers must now provide an experience that is both streamlined and personalised. It has become a necessity for the retail industry. It will be the retailers that expand their uses of AI technology that will gain the competitive edge in years to come. The benefit is not just to improve customer service (although this is vital), it is also crucial in enabling retailers to improve sales and conversion rates and use data about purchasing behaviour to personalise the customer experience further.
AI can be used to offer true personalisation. Like an outstanding store assistant in a bricks and mortar setting, an intelligent AI system can learn from its environment. This means that targeted recommendations can be made, intuitively based on customer needs and on the strength of previous purchases and interactions that the customer has made. A massive advantage is that an AI system can do things at scale, whilst even the most talented of salesperson is limited by the capacity of the human brain. AI ‘actions’ can be influenced by taking into account current levels of stock, margins and trends.
In short, the most relevant of customer experiences – to the smallest of segments: one.