Does technological innovation accelerate? In the short 40 years since the official birth of the internet and nearly 25 since the first social media platform, we’re witnessing the age of artificial intelligence (AI). It is only logical to build and implement AI, machine learning, and automated tools into online (also in-store) business operations and to thrive on their many benefits. Apart from saving time and money and enhancing consumer engagement, AI is improving retail customer experience in ways companies soon won’t be able to ignore.
A place for AI under the retail sun
The impact of AI on the retail industry is tremendous. In the last four years, investments in this tech have quadrupled, reaching close to eight billion dollars. Companies primarily utilize artificial intelligence to support their e-commerce websites and customer services. A common reason is to automate mundane and repetitive tasks. As simple as it sounds, the results are game-changing. Automation through AI boosts employee satisfaction but also dramatically enhances customer happiness.
Combined with predictive analysis, AI makes the shopping experience more enjoyable, and product or service search faster and more accurate. Furthermore, AI improves the customer support response rate, expedites issue resolution, and manages timely follow-up. As a result, it brings a warm, personalized experience to the cold world of online shopping. You wouldn’t expect that from something with ‘artificial’ in its name, would you?
Today, many businesses use AI to automate back-office tasks and boost operational efficiency. Why? Because it’s proven to work. As specialists from MoversTech noticed, companies are now beginning to focus on the improvement of the retail customer experience, both in online and brick-and-mortar settings, as well.
Important ways AI is improving retail customer experience right now
What precisely does the implementation of AI bring to companies in the retail industry? Here are 4 benefits:
- Gives customers exactly what, when, and where they want it;
- Boosts customers’ in-store shopping experience;
- Customer-tailored recommendations;
- Time-efficient, high-quality customer support.
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
#1 Predicting consumer expectations
AI tracks customers’ digital footsteps and in-store visits and tailors offers according to their online and offline search history and interactions. As a result, customers get a better-curated offer. Customers get what they want, and retailers profit. The extension of this practice is present in more personalized showrooms, where AI is used to pick out the most popular items for a tryout. This way, it breaks the cycle of buying-trying-returning, ensuring savings for both sides.
#2 In-store shopping made fast, easy, and infinitely more satisfying
The reason AI is becoming indispensable is that it addresses consumers’ multiple needs. When visiting a brick-and-mortar store, customers can easily get lost among the isles looking for someone to assist them. Instead, an AI assistant helps customers navigate the space and locate what they need. Moreover, assistants help them find the right size, color, brand, or ideal combination.
These data-driven suggestions utilize the advantages of AR (augmented reality). This is particularly important in the beauty sector, where shopping mistakes are easily made. The AI/AR combo makes trying out the product (or service) before shopping comfortable through apps and virtual trials. Once it comes to the checkout process, AI is improving retail customer experience by streamlining payment and eliminating checkout lines.
#3 Recommendations based on preferences
Don’t allow online browsing to make you hate cookies! Every site you visit kindly asks you to agree (or disagree) to share your user experience with them. Why? Because they aim to improve the service you get. In other words, “you’re here, so you must want something from us, allow us to give it to you.” It’s that simple. Sites even ask your permission before they advertise to you. The best part of enhancing the customer experience through AI is giving customers a choice.
#4 Timely and quality customer support
Customer support is one of the staples in the retail business. One of the world’s biggest, if not the biggest, online retailers bases its marketing strategy on customer support. It means only one thing. A quick and accurate response to a question or an issue shows that consumers, their feedback, and requests are valued. It boosts the customer’s sense of safety, improves brand loyalty, and thus increases revenue.
For example, chatbots are there to answer the most common questions and allow customer support agents to focus on solving complex requests and provide better quality, personalized service. The next step where AI can help the retail industry is expediting the resolution to ensure customer satisfaction. Wherever there is a possibility to automate a process of order revision, replacement, refund, return, and messaging – artificial intelligence can easily jump in.
Are you ready for the future?
The adoption of AI isn’t only about increasing revenue; it’s about staying competitive. If walking in the steps of retail giants has taught the industry anything, it’s that AI is improving retail customer experience by and large. Even if you aren’t ready to fill your store with robot assistants, the benefits of automation can’t be understated. TimeForge helps customers predict sales volumes every day, making their schedules more accurate and saving them money on labor. Don’t believe us? Give us a call – we’d be happy to show you in a live demo.