Why the retail industry needs to become more digital
Retail is always changing to keep up with current technology, and as consumer trends evolve over time, retailers need to continue to keep up. The biggest trend and shift in consumer behaviour at the moment is that more people are shopping online. Year on year, the number of online sales is increasing and the outbreak of COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst, which saw 32.8% of all UK retail sales being made online in May this year* – the highest since records began.
It is important that retailers adapt to the ever-changing environment, otherwise, they risk losing touch with their customer base and falling behind their competition. However, the technology we have available to us allows the adoption of new, digital strategies, much quicker than ever before. Now, the customer journey is much more complex, behaviors online can be tracked and used to personalise experiences, anticipate demand, and predict spend.
Adapting digital strategies with AI and machine learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning models are fast becoming an important part of how retail businesses should be run. These models can analyse big data in an intelligent, scalable, and automated way, and find patterns to help businesses understand what their customer really wants.
Analysing and understanding these patterns properly allows you to make important decisions, which can positively impact business outcomes. The powerful algorithms analyse consumer behaviour, such as items viewed, purchase history, what people search for, and the behaviour of similar shoppers. Machine learning takes this one step further and can predict a consumer’s behaviour often before they even know what they want themselves. Using this data allows you to place the right product, in front of the right shopper, at the right time in the buying cycle, which will ultimately increase conversions and your ROI.
Use AI to deliver exceptional customer service
The power of AI and machine learning work at all stages of the customer journey, and they are changing the way businesses interact with their customers. Whether that’s displaying products they might like or using Contact Center AI (CCAI) to increase operational efficiency and deliver exceptional customer service.
CCAI ultimately contributes to greater customer satisfaction; shorter call times improved outcomes, and much quicker resolutions. Machine learning models are able to find the answers to customer queries, so agents can assist with customer requests more accurately, and at a much quicker pace.
Learn more about Google Cloud’s CCAI and how customers are using this technology to their advantage.
Delivering the omni-channel retail experience
Just because online sales are increasing doesn’t mean physical sales should have less of a focus. Infact, retailers who deliver an omni-channel experience not only enable customers to convert on every channel, but all aspects of the customer journey is streamlined, leading to more sales and increasing engagement. This is known as the “halo effect”. Shoppers can decide what is the most important factor when making a purchase; convenience, speed, price, ease of return, or the in-store experience. This in turn contributes to brand loyalty, repeat custom, and improved customer experience.
AI and machine learning can determine how customers interact and move around the brand ecosystem. Retailers can now forecast behaviours across offline and online channels, which brings them closer than ever to predict business outcomes, giving them a competitive advantage.
Read our next blog post “Is your retail business ready for a surge in online sales?” to learn exactly how Netpremacy can help you implement Google Cloud’s AI and machine learning technology into your business.
*Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales (ratio) (%) https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/j4mc/drsi