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AI Predicted To Be In Use By Almost Half Of All Retailers By 2020

Retail IT Insights – New report find retailers see AI as the key to optimizing customer experiences. Savvy retailers know that the future of customer services lies in the implementation of innovative technologies like artificial intelligence, according to the 2017 Customer Experience/ Unified Commerce Survey results from BRP. In fact, 55 percent of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience – and thus boost customer loyalty – through the use of technology to improve the mobile shopping experience and create a unified cross-channel experience.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

According to the BRP survey, the key customer experience capabilities include education, engagement, execution, enhancement, and enablers.  It found that social media is a powerful tool for customers who want to research brands and products. And most retailers are investing in new technologies to engage customers via smart devices. Meanwhile, 67 percent of retailers are already offering a consistent product assortment across channels, even as many retailers are still struggling with manual processes.

Read Full Article: AI Predicted To Be In Use By Almost Half Of All Retailers By 2020

Identifying Mobile Shoppers A Top Priority For 70% Of Retailers

Mobile Insider – Mobile commerce is not only in the hands of mobile shoppers. Retailers are increasingly looking to personalize shopping experiences by tapping into mobile technology to help them identify their customers.

Identifying the customer and delivering a personalized experience is one of the top priorities of 70% of retailers, according to a new study by BRP Consulting.

More than half (57%) of retailers say customer mobile experience alignment via mobile app, Web site and responsive design is a top customer engagement priority, and empowering associates with mobile tools is important for 46% of retailers.

The intent is to use mobile technology to identify the customer prior to checkout — sometimes even before they enter the store — to enable associates to assist and influence purchase decisions, according to the report.

In previous times, retailers relied on checkout for customer identification. Savvy retailers now leverage mobile apps, WiFi, geolocation and beacon technology to identify customers when they are near or entering the store. This technology is becoming commonplace at shopping centers, malls, restaurants, drug stores and convenience stores.

Read Full Article: Identifying Mobile Shoppers A Top Priority For 70% Of Retailers

Is Alexa the Future of Customer Service?

Is Alexa the Future of Customer Service?

45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) within three years to enhance the customer experience, according to the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey.

According to the report from BRP, 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future.

BRP conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey to understand retailers’ customer experience priorities today and for the future, and how the evolution of unified commerce helps provide retailers with the right people, processes and technology to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience.

The key customer experience capabilities are:

Educate – One of the areas of greatest improvement is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products. Overall utilization is up from 73% of retailers utilizing it last year to 92% this year, however, many retailers indicate that their current social media offerings need improvement.

Engage – Most retailers have plans to implement new technologies to identify customers via their smartphones, mobile applications and other emerging technologies. Within three years, 59% of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi and 63% plan to use mobile apps to identify customers in their stores.

Execute – 67% of retailers are offering a consistent product assortment across channels; however, many retailers are still struggling with manual processes as 43% indicate the processes need improvement.

Enhance – Retailers realize the importance of utilizing customer insights gathered from social media as 89% of retailers are now using social media comments as a critical customer satisfaction measurement, up from 59% last year.

Enablers – Enhanced networks are a critical requirement for a unified commerce environment and 76% of retailers plan to enhance or replace their network within the next three years.

A special thanks goes to the survey sponsors: the platinum sponsor is Aptos and the gold sponsors are Cayan, ECRS, Experian Data Quality, Fujitsu, Manhattan Associates, Mi9 Retail, NCR, Netsuite, PCMS, Radial, Tyco Retail Solutions.

I encourage you to download and read the complete report:

2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey

As always, I appreciate your feedback and opinions on this topic and the report.  Please share your comments below.

David

 

Report: 45% of retailers expect to use AI within 3 years

MarketingDive – Retail management consulting firm BRP released its 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey and found 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty with tactics including improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels per a press release.

The survey also found that 45% of retailers intend to begin using artificial intelligence within three years to enhance the customer experience.

In the press release, Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP, described the customer experience in unified commerce as more complex than in pure e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environments adding the complexity “expands exponentially” as technologies including social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning impact the retail sector and its customer journey.

The unified commerce customer experience highlight by BRP points to one of the challenges facing traditional retailers, which is having to provide expected in-store experiences like being able to physically examine merchandise and interact with sales associates as well as unique and personalized e-commerce shopping engagements that are now expected by many consumers. While many retailers are already active in e-commerce to varying degrees, they will need to adopt newer technologies to stay current with consumers’ expectations.

BRP’s Kramer framed next-gen technology as exponentially expanding the complexity of retail, suggesting a significant issue retailers could face going forward will be the learning curve that will coincide with the maturation of emerging tech like AI, the machine learning subset of AI and even the proliferation of IoT devices. While technology might be a source of complexity, it is also very likely to become the future solution to the challenges facing retailers adjusting

Read Full Article: Report: 45% of retailers expect to use AI within 3 years

Half of all retailers will implement AI tactics in next 3 years: BRP

Luxury Daily – Boston Retail Partners’ “2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey” looks into shopping behavior and trends for the upcoming year. What the report found was that AI will serve as a key bridge between the physical reality of shopping in a store and the endless possibilities of shopping online.

“Luxury retailers should focus on using AI behind the scenes of customer service and as a fall-back when they miss the mark on staffing or responsiveness with their primary customer service model,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP, Boston.

“A specialty retailer, for example, may target using chatbots and AI for 50 percent of their engagements with a focus on non-core customers while a luxury retailer may set that target at between 1 percent and 5 percent and consider it a last resort to meet an established service level for customer engagement,” he said.

“Luxury retailers should experiment with AI to analyze leading global trends and leverage predictive analytics to identify trends in markets before they happen. The critical piece of this is finding the right way to inform associates that are working with the consumer so that they can use it as a proactive tool.”

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence already plays a key role in several parts of the retail experience. Retailers and brands have been using chatbots and other AI-powered technology for some time.

But the use of these technologies is set to expand in the near future. BRP predicts that in the next three years, almost half of all retailers will begin using more AI-powered technology.

These new technological additions will be focused on bridging the gap between online and offline sales, a key part of any modern retailer’s strategy.

BRP notes that 67 percent of retailers already offer a consistent product assortment across channels but that many are still struggling with the finer points of omnichannel retail.

AI can help sell all sorts of products

AI can help alleviate some of those omnichannel issues.

“Using AI to increase the effectiveness of having the right products and the right associates in the right time will become an absolute requirement for luxury retailers,” BRP’s Mr. Kramer said. “However, being able to read and react to a customer in-person using intuition and human intelligence is a long way from being replaced by AI as the best service option.”

Artificial intelligence can be a particularly useful asset to the luxury world as those brands try to have the highest-quality service possible for their customers.

“Luxury brands must continue to invest in the in-store and online customer experience using AI and unified commerce platforms if they are going to maintain the high-touch level of service that differentiates them from specialty and traditional department store retailers,” Mr. Kramer said.

“Having a unified commerce platform that provides the sales associate with visibility to accurate, real-time inventory without leaving the consumer’s side is critical,” he said. “This is where mobile technology, unified commerce and AI all come together to optimize the customer experience.”

Luxury opportunities

Artificial intelligence has already been embraced by the luxury world in some capacities.

For example, a recent addition to the Amazon Echo’s capabilities served as an opportunity for fashion brands.

Consumers who purchase the new Amazon Echo will have the ability to receive fashion advice in regard to their outfits through the device’s camera and its artificial intelligence solution. Fashion designers will likely have an avenue in the future to further connect with consumers through this feature (see story).

Also, French atelier Christian Dior is the latest brand to leverage Facebook Messenger as a method to dispel news and happenings with consumers.

Dior’s AI chatbot

Dior has launched a new experience via Facebook Messenger called Dior Insider. Similar to other brands’ strategies, consumers interested in learning the latest Dior news or who have questions regarding a product can interact with an interactive chatbot software (see story).

In addition to AI, retailers surveyed by BRP are also planning on using WiFi and mobile applications more in coming months to target customers.

“Having a mobile vehicle to communicate real-time information on a very broad range of subjects to the sales associate is imperative,” BRP’s Mr. Kramer said. “The topics should range from global retail and fashion trends to real-time updates about a premier customer who just pulled into the parking lot or entered the store.”

Read Full Article: Half of all retailers will implement AI tactics in next 3 years: BRP

BRP Study Finds Retailers Looking to Incorporate New Technologies

Convenience Store Decisions – Unified commerce helps retailers reach customers. According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future.

BRP conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey to understand retailers’ customer experience priorities today and for the future, and how the evolution of unified commerce helps provide retailers with the right people, processes and technology to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience.

Read Full Article: BRP Study Finds Retailers Looking to Incorporate New Technologies

Why retailers should focus on the check in, not the check out

Internet Retailer – Mobile technology and artificial intelligence make it possible for stores to offer the kind of personalization shoppers find online.

Here’s a question: Why is it that when I shop my favorite e-commerce sites, I’m instantly recognized and presented with personalized offers and products, but when I walk into my favorite brick and mortar stores they often have no idea who I am or what I want? And why is it that physical retailers wait until I’m at the register paying for my merchandise, seconds away from leaving the store, to identify me?

Personalization, powered by artificial intelligence (AI), is fast taking hold in e-commerce, where shoppers are greeted with personalized offers, product recommendations and content based on their past behavior. But most stores are woefully behind because there is often no connective tissue between the online and in-store experience. There’s a reason for this. Retailers have focused the bulk of their store operations investments on speeding up the check-out.

That’s worthwhile, but single-minded.

By first identifying customers at checkout, the in-store experience is a step behind (a big step behind) the online experience. Retailers must identify and engage consumer at the moment of truth — when they are doing research and discovery. In fact, according to a survey by TimeTrade, a customer engagement firm, stores left a potential $150 billion in revenue on the table in 2016 by failing to offer personalization! Respondents said they would have increased their in-store spending by an average of 5% if they received better, personalized service.

It’s no secret that brick and mortar stores are struggling to match the convenience, selection, and personalization of online shopping. That’s why retailers are prioritizing investments in unified commerce technologies that bring together the online and offline shopping experiences and engage with consumers on a one-to-one level wherever they shop.

According to Boston Retail Partners, 75% of retailers plan to use Wi-Fi to identify customers who opt in, via mobile phone, by 2019. This could trigger an alert on an associate’s phone, tablet or smartwatch, with the customer’s preferences and shopping history. After all, the vast majority of associates are within arm’s reach of their mobile device anyway, and can immediately offer a more personalized shopping experience.

Read Full Article: Why retailers should focus on the check in, not the check out