As 2022 arrives here’s a look at the top three trends in retail customer experience coming this year.
As two weeks turned into two months, and two months turned into two years, the pandemic accelerated massive innovation in the retailing space – and that innovation shows no signs of slowing down.
Advancements in machine learning and AI are allowing retailers to quickly adapt to the new preferences and behaviors consumers have embraced.
As we head into 2022, here are the top three trends worth watching.
Consumers learned how to save — and they like it
Hearing straight from shoppers is invaluable — shifting from customer experience to human experience. During Synchrony’s recent Envision conference, a sweeping panel discussion, Changing Consumer Expectations: A Generational Panel Perspective, saw three consumers representing different ages, races, genders, and geographies share viewpoints on a range of topics. One thing that resonated is that during the pandemic, people learned (or re-learned) how to save — and they liked it. In fact, two of the panelists expressed their desire to continue saving versus spending as their lives return to pre-pandemic conditions, prioritizing debt-reduction and nest egg-building over acquisition of goods.
The implications for retailers cannot be understated. For many consumers, this represents a complete shift in mindset. As the allure of saving grows, retailers will have to fight harder for every sale — fighting against not only their direct competitors but also new inclination not to purchase at all. They need to think about the value they are giving to consumers — using human experiences as a compass to guide the customer journey.
In this climate, consumer experience will take on extra importance as retailers search for ways to increase interest and reduce cart abandonment – which leads us to our next key takeaway.
Express checkout will continue to gain momentum
«We have cars that drive themselves, but it still takes two minutes for the average person online to complete a checkout.» This is the paradox posed by Ryth Martin, founder and CEO at Skipify.
He’s quite right to point out the extreme technology gap and the need to close it, because the hard truth is that too many people won’t spend those two minutes. Increasing the speed at checkout and reducing friction can dramatically increase performance. Data shows that express checkout can increase the rate of checkout to order multiple times over.
Technologies like Skipify give the ability for merchants to allow customers to transact instantly on any channel — allowing them to buy rapidly on core merchant websites to email and everything in between. Artificial intelligence and smart technologies are going to help make the entire payments journey frictionless.
Computer Vision will usher in a new area of customer convenience, help retailers increase loyalty
Grabango is leveraging computer vision to deliver a checkout-free shopping experience in both grocery and convenience stores. For the consumer, the benefits are obvious: no more waiting in line or running every item across a barcode scanner; just pick what you want and leave the store. It’s a faster, simpler, hassle-free process.
But the benefits are just as great — possibly greater — for the retailer. Eliminating checkout lines means shifting staff to other roles, while the ability to reduce shoplifting creates shrinkage savings. In addition to generating cost savings, computer vision also boosts revenue. Stores are generally limited by how many customers they can process at a given time. When the register bottleneck is removed, stores can serve more people at a time and increase revenue. Additionally, the enhanced customer experience can create loyal, repeat customers.
Finally, there are ancillary benefits that come as a byproduct of the data that systems collect. For instance, when computer vision is constantly tracking the specific goods leaving your store there is no need to do manual inventory recounts and auto-orders can be established.
As Will Glaser, founder and CEO at Grabango said, «without any uncertainty, computer vision is the technology of this decade. It’s the most powerful piece of technology that we have in our hands that’s not yet been fully implemented.»
What it all means
Whether the technology is computer vision, express checkout, or contactless payments, the bottom line is customer ease. It is critical that we all get closer to the customer to understand their entire journey and not just parts of it.
As the fight for consumer dollars continues to intensify, emerging as the «easiest» retailer to transact with is a winning strategy — and early adoption of emerging technologies may well be a critical part of that strategy. So take note, because big things are on the horizon.
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