Retail Trends: Technology and AI in the Shopping Experience

Technology has become a fundamental part of all sectors and industries. Business models are rapidly evolving to meet customer expectations and maintain competitiveness.

Manufacturers, banks, retailers, and other industries must adapt and embrace innovation. With the speed at which technology is growing, enabling automation and advances previously unthinkable, it is essential to approach it with an open mind to test and understand its potential.

Companies need to understand both the technology and their customers, shifting from a product-centric approach to one that also focuses on the customer. Otherwise, they would waste time implementing technologies and solutions that don’t address their challenges or customers’ interests.

A trend that has grown over the last years has been the phygital interaction or shopping experience. The term Phygital was coined in 2013 by the Australian agency Momentum and refers to the convergence of physical and digital channels.

Customers want a seamless experience, with reduced friction, that includes the benefits of different channels and sources of information and enables them to interact with businesses when and how they want to.

Younger consumers want an easy and flawless experience; considering centennials have 24/7 access to Wi-Fi and information, there is little patience or tolerance for roadblocks that will make their shopping experience more complex.

Taking retail as an example, customers have different objectives and intentions throughout the shopping journey. Companies must take a holistic view and understand the customer journey as a complete experience, addressing each stage to gain customer trust and loyalty.

They should design solutions and implement accelerators that address customer needs at every phase. A straightforward example is an eCommerce app that allows customers to choose items in the physical store and checkout digitally.

For Centennials or GenZ, the benefits of going to the physical store and digitally checking out are clear; no waiting in line and being sure the item is what they want. In other words, they want both the benefits of physical and digital channels.

Further, AI is fundamental throughout the whole shopping experience. In the case of a mobile app, it is present in many ways, starting with personalized offers, leveraging purchase history to make predictive recommendations or analysis, chatbots, and virtual assistants, tracking the user’s navigation to enable data-driven decisions, facial recognition to validate a purchase, the list goes on.

Countless solutions and accelerators can help retailers address the convergence of channels and implement AI throughout the customer journey. Nevertheless, they must keep the customer at the center and understand how AI will simplify the shopping experience.

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