Being recognised and valued as an individual is what makes a great retail experience. Fifty years ago, it was the norm for owners, staff and customers to know one another, and perhaps today it can be true of small neighbourhood stores, with retail chains having overlooked that personal touch. But, today, technology is bringing back personal experiences – now a priority for forward-thinking retailers to maximise and gain a competitive edge.
According to the 2018 Personalisation Pulse Check from Accenture Interactive, 91% of consumers are far more likely to buy from a retailer that remembers their name, recognises their preferences, pays attention to their history and provides them with relevant offers and recommendations. In effect, the shopping experience has gone full circle. When a customer can hear, see and interact with the retailer through services tailored to their specific needs, it results in a strong and loyal community. The store of the future will need to be underpinned by seamlessly integrated technology to create a retail experience that will cultivate brand loyalty – especially, if it is done to perfection. The store of the future will have the following five trends:
Personality profiling will bring together various technologies that will capture data about customers. Data will include demographic information as well as personal preferences, such as identifying which brands certain customers gravitate towards. Most importantly, retailers will be able to identify the customer’s preferred channels of communication. By asking customers to share some basic personal information, retailers will be able to make more informed decisions, thereby providing a more personalised service.
Facial recognition gives retailers the ability to read customers’ emotions and the ability to react to customers based on their emotional state. Facial recognition will help retailers assess customers’ reactions to in-store marketing material. Specialised cameras and technology will pick up customer sentiment towards a specific in-store campaign, which will assist managers in ensuring their marketing material remains relevant.
Highly customised and automated messages and interactions
Customers are demanding a personalised experience from retailers while in store. How retailers respond to that will be a key aspect to the store of the future. When a customer logs onto a store´s Wi-Fi and provides consent, the retailer can identify them the moment they walk in and send special offers to their mobile devices, even allowing for a personal greeting by the manager. Personalised service to customers is highly dependent on reliable, fast and secure communication.
Push reminders enable retailers to send a customer a reminder based on their regular shopping behaviour. Once a retailer is able to put together a personality profile, they are able to look at shopping behaviour and pick up patterns to assist customers in remembering to purchase particular goods.
Augmented reality (AR)
With AR, it is possible for customers to walk into a cubicle, have their measurements calculated and decide on material and colours for a personalised garment that is unique to them. With the advancements in AR in the retail industry, it is also possible for these personalised garments to be seen on the customer’s body, before being made, through smart mirrors – giving them autonomy over how their clothing will look.
This is the shopping experience that AR is making possible and as technology advancements continue so will the possibilities for retail.
Réan van Niekerk the CEO of telecommunications supplier Metacom.