Artificial Intelligence and Digital Personalisation in Retail
Posted by Taj Onigbanjo
While the high street changes beyond recognition, and as consumers become accustomed to the closure of physical stores, retailers must buck the trend and realise that the key to survival is to embrace how customer preference is changing.
Modern consumers’ dependence on the brick-and-mortar store dwindles as online shopping and mobile-first take over. In response, the retail industry has had to innovate, adopt modern technologies, evolve into a streamlined-yet-multi-channel shopping experience, and bring digital personalisation to its forefront. Through the application of artificial intelligence, retailers can offer tailored shopping options for their customers, and cater to their ever-more demanding expectations in order to stay afloat, and remain competitive.
The 2016 connected shoppers report from Salesforce revealed that 75% of consumers expect a consistent experience wherever they engage with an organisation. As a brand, retailers should not be a cluster of distinct bases, but a fluid, unified series of touch points. Cross-channel engagement should feel the same no matter what the beginning of the customer journey looks like - a physical shop front, or a pop-up on the website.
Creating a cohesive omnichannel retail experience requires a comprehensive understanding of the consumer. Data capture is step one, but retailers must turn that data into insights, and those insights into action. Syncing up the online and offline experience, centralising data sources, and mapping the entire customer journey, to design an irresistible and connected customer experience.
Attracting and retaining customers with changing demands is one challenge - the “connected consumer” can now shop anywhere - but retailers must also establish and maintain reliable resource like suppliers, manpower, and overall infrastructure. Competition is ferocious and remaining profitable requires continuous analysis, meticulous planning, and innovation.
Something as simple as maintaining legacy software could be holding businesses back from keeping their costs low and profits growing. A retailer’s ERP solution should improve the responsiveness of its users, and bridge hundreds of customer attributions to bring market intelligence into a single place for accurate financial and operational performance reporting.
With reliable, real-time business intelligence, and a solid understanding of customer data points, retailers are able to uncover trends and to optimise every customer interaction and offer them a more seamless shopping experience. With every interaction comes more customer data, and while they’re often knee-deep in information, many retailers struggle to apply it to its full potential, stopping short of delivering a personalised experience.
More retailers are understanding the benefits of AI in facilitating digital personalisation. Using autonomous decision making to analyse data is changing the retail industry through improved customer service management, more accurate supply and demand predictions, and rigorously driving sales. To stay competitive, retailers simply cannot ignore the benefits of the application of such technology. Scaling up the application of customer data, identifying trends, and using this to deliver a more personalised and straightforward shopping experience encourages deeper brand loyalty in the savvy online consumer.
The retail landscape is enduring continuous rapid movement, and competition has become fierce as a result. Only the most innovative companies will be able to keep up and to thrive. The ability to access and scale customer data in real time is crucial for retailers to encourage more meaningful personalised experiences, driving influential and optimised actions at every step of the customer journey.