Buying experiences, both in offline and online channels, can vary dramatically between retailers as vendors approach the customer journey in different ways. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming a common tool used across the retail sector; being incorporated both into online and offline channels with the goal of enhancing customer experience or increasing conversion rates. AI is starting to shake up the retail sector and there are many different ways in which AI could be used in the future to increase retailers’ revenues and improve customer experience levels. As AI increases its presence, the question that lies ahead is: will it change how retail operates forever?
Enhancing the in-store experience through AI
Smartphones are our constant companion when we shop; it doesn’t matter if we are browsing the aisles or trying something on, they are always there with us. So, how can retailers take advantage of this to enhance customers’ experience when in store?
Providing information in-store through smartphones could be the starting point. Having the possibility of checking if there’s more stock of a certain product, using QR codes could speed up the buying process. Less time spent by the shopping assistant checking stock availability means more time dedicated to advising the customer on other products to buy, enhancing the customer experience and increasing the rate of sale.
Another opportunity arises for retailers to use AI to improve the in-store experience by giving the customer the possibility of checking how the whole range of other colours or sizes for each product would look on them. This is already being done by Rebecca Minkoff in New York; providing customers with smart dressing rooms that allow shoppers to interact with a display screen (1), enabling them to carry out other activities from their smartphone like adjusting the lighting of the dressing room itself or even asking for assistance without having to go outside.
Increasing conversions online with AI
Improving the in-store experience is a powerful way to foster customer loyalty, so what can retailers do to replicate this experience online? Using AI powered virtual assistants like chat bots could help to replicate this personalised experience by guiding the customer through the purchase process and answering any questions along the way.
Luxury or complex goods in particular highly benefit from the use of AI in the online buying process as customers tend to have a number of questions when buying these types of products as they want to be reassured they are making the right choice. On many occasions, in the modern high-street shop, shopping assistants often lack specialised product knowledge to be able to help the customer effectively. If these types of stores want to up their game online, having an AI chatbot that can advise the customer on particular product information, whilst answering any concerns, cannot only enhance the shopper’s experience but also increase conversion rates.
By learning how people buy and make appropriate product recommendations after analysing how they interact with your site and engage with your products, AI tools can increase the average value spent by each customer by choosing carefully selected product recommendations.
Staying in touch
Social media can also become a data hub for AI platforms. By engaging with customers’ social media, AI technology can learn what customers like and dislike, their buying habits, and other types of information that can be used to make personalised recommendations about specific products; these recommendations can be made at the right time, and, at the right place. In other words, data mining can help retailers to get to know their customers much better and as a consequence, provide them with an improved and more personalised service. AI tools enable retailers to learn about individuals en masse and make well-timed offers that are personalised based on what information they share online.
By learning in depth about customer behaviour, AI technology can help by developing reminders to buy, following abandoned carts, discovering the optimum time to position a product, or knowing when to drop or raise priced. This enables retailers to stay in touch with customers without constantly bombarding them with information, and thanks to the use of AI and data mining tools, retailers can engage with their customers at the right time and place, without the risk of overwhelming them.
AI technology can bring personalised marketing one step further by helping retailers to get to know customers in depth and learning about their individual buying habits, offering products to customers at the best time. Using AI, retailers can optimise both online and offline channels, enhancing customers’ experience at the same time as improving conversion rates.