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Yesterday Cybertill sponsored and exhibited at Omnichannel Futures 2019. Hosted by The Retail Bulletin, it was a day for networking and interesting talks that aimed to identify retail trends, the gaps in retail, process and thinking. Speakers covered topics such as AI, customer loyalty, the future of retail, marketing to the future shopper and some interesting “light bulb” moments (check out Buster + Punch who spoke at the event and you’ll see what I mean…).

Although not officially outlined by the organisers or speakers, but by the end of the day there was an obvious theme to the talks, and that was personalisation.

In the chair’s welcome Andrew Warren established that we are “in a world of hyper-personalisation”, so what does this mean for the future of retail? How can retailers keep up with retail trends and consumer demands that are becoming increasingly more dependent on having a personalised experience with a retailer or brand?

As I look over my notes from the talks I see things like “dishwasher ordering its own tablets” and “doggy delivery: where robot dogs deliver your parcels” and “the fridge will make decisions for you” and its like I’ve written down the very rough beginnings of a Black Mirror episode. But there is nothing fictional about these technologies, they are all very real. In her talk “Future shopper and technology trends driving the retail revolution”, Elena Cochero from Unruly, believes that within the next year these technologies will be commonplace in every home and every human will have their own ‘personal assistant’. Voice technologies like Google Assistant and Alexa will become “omnipresent throughout your day to day life” moving from the home, to your car, to your workplace, forever being there to ‘assist’.

So, what can retailers do with these technologies to capture the attention of customers?

Elena explained that “the home is the new store”. The home is everyone’s sanctuary, if retailers can crack and understand emotional intelligence and how to interact with people in their home, they will be able to target customers in a much more personalised (there’s that word again) way. We can all admit that the idea of brands and retailers entering the home through advertising seems impersonal, intrusive and cold, but this is what AI is going to solve. AI can ensure that ads are personalised and truly add value to customers in a non-intrusive way.

 

“Reaching people is not about shouting about yourself, it’s about being omnipresent” Elena Cochero, Unruly

 

Customers have three traits, want to know, want to explore and want to buy. Customers can upload or take a picture of an item and ASOS will pull the item or items that look similar. Hammerson, the retail landlords, trialled a visual search app at a shopping centre to help customers find similar items in stock nearby within the shopping centre. Instant gratification and easily exploring new brands and items they may not have otherwise. Shoe try-on app WannaKicks comes under ‘want to explore’ using augmented reality to allow customers to try on trainers in the comfort of their home. And the ‘want to buy’ can come from targeted and personalised marketing and brand relevance to the customer.

However, it seems that voice search still hasn’t become ‘the norm’ for shoppers just yet. Only 17% of shoppers use voice technologies for shopping. Customers still have this need to see and validate a product with their eyes before purchasing new products. But Elena identified that there is one place where voice search could be useful in the future of retail, and that’s whilst driving. Having a voice assistant in the car makes shopping easy. If you see a print ad in the street of say a Kit Kat, you would usually just have to remember or travel to the shop later or until you can next go on your phone to purchase. Whereas if you are driving, you see the ad for the tasty snack, you voice search for the product and command “add to basket”. Simple.

Partners can come together to overcome challenges and use IOT (Internet of Things) to connect the home. Check out the #LikeABosch ad campaign as it showcases IOT. For each stage of a customer’s day retailers could be there, circling back to the need to be ‘omnipresent’. IOT enables personalised recommendations, personalised search, personalised browse, discovery, and personalised content, in the home and online on customer’s devices.

These technologies are paving the way for new customer loyalty and are leading the retail trends. Customers will be influenced by these technologies and they will become brand loyal to certain products. We have all heard of B2B (business to business), well Elena explained that there is a new B2B, Bot to Bot. A smart fridge can use its camera to keep track of every brand that is in a customer’s fridge, when they take out their favourite juice one day and it is not returned, the fridge will automatically reorder it for them. Bot to Bot. It’s the same with the dishwasher (now my ‘Black Mirror’ notes make sense!).

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