What will the future bring for leading brands in the retail and fashion industry?
With the rise of e-commerce giants like Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay, the retail scenario is rebuilt on a digital foundation, where competition is played on the ability to meet an entirely new set of behaviors, expectations, and priorities of today's shoppers.
On-demand services and instant gratification available at any time are giving customers an ever greater control over their purchase journey and increasing their power towards brands. Speed, ease, contextual and individual relevance have passed within a few years from being valuable nice-to-have to essential must-have.
However, few are really trying to bridge the gap between insight and action, and it's the case of leading companies that are using technology to innovate their customer experience with a human-centric approach, changing how they interact and engage with today's customers.
Timberland launched a context-aware email marketing campaign, shaping ads for different weatherproof products to match each user's position and weather conditions in real-time.
Since at least 2013, Amazon takes notice of our shopping behavior and tailors recommendations for every one of us. And as we continue browsing, the fitting personalization goes on.
Even customer support has become much smarter. On companies' websites and e-commerce, chatbots and virtual assistants use natural language processing to help customers effortlessly navigate questions, FAQs or troubleshooting.
In the offline world, we see stores and shop windows coming to life with digital signage interactive systems and 3D contents on augmented and virtual reality. And even behind the scenes, store analytics is becoming a common practice that will soon have nothing on online analytics, helping retailers to better understand shoppers behavior and measure the impact of different areas in the store environment.
It is easy to see how all these applications have one thing in common: AI.
Artificial intelligence is disrupting the retail industry as it enables marketers to automate and bring on a large scale something that until a few years ago required effortful small-scale processes. That is tailor-made experiences, custom-designed for each individual.
But there is still something wrong with AI today. A missing piece to move from the now outdated customer-centric approach to a people-centric path, more consistent with the evolving needs and wants of today's shoppers. It is predicted to be the future of AI, that will progressively bridge the gap between the offline and the online world. That missing piece is empathy.
We have identified 10 key factors for an empathic customer experience. You can find them in the "Digital Innovation in Retail & Fashion" report, now free to download.