AI technology is shaping the next-gen customer experience



Technology is advancing at such a speed that it become a huge challenge to keep up with the progression. With the boom of AI technology and cloud-based services, we see businesses beginning to continually assess and adapt their offerings to match changing customer expectations.

How do we know which are the areas of AI that we should be investing in for lasting growth, flexibility and success? Begin with areas which will bring about the greatest efficiencies and value for money while also creating a dynamic shopping experience.

A pre-requisite to any investment into AI should always consider: how to improve the overall customer experience.

Ultimately, it all comes under the same umbrella heading of establishing a next-gen customer experience solution.

Combining AI-driven efficiencies with effective personalisation plans

One of the most significant benefits of integrating AI into your front-end and back-end systems is the efficiencies that retailers can make. Through various plugins, you can not only streamline your workflow all the way through your supply chains, but you can also gain more data and insights into your customers.

By understanding who they are and why they are choosing to shop with you, AI can allow you to amplify your personalisation strategies quickly and easily.

Back-end efficiencies can aid the customer.

From an operations perspective, AI is helping to drive efficiencies through better inventory management, demand forecasting and supply chain optimisation.

By analysing vast amounts of data, AI can help retailers anticipate trends, optimise inventory levels, integrate dynamic pricing and reduce operational costs.

You may be questioning how this leads to a better overall customer experience – but put simply, it’s all about setting expectations for the end consumer.

For example, if your AI technology is allowing you to improve your stock levels and predict what will become the next best seller, you can let your customers know when an item may come back into stock or set delivery timetable expectations.

Similarly, your data analytics should inform you what customers do and do not like – with that information, you can use past purchasing history and shopping habits to make better suggestions for relevant suggested items.

By removing the barriers to purchasing, you are more likely to deliver a customer experience that guides that shopper along their sales journey.

Front-end AI should focus on customer service.

From a customer perspective, AI has become a complete game-changer. Retailers (even small brands with limited budgets) can benefit from the latest plugins that offer real-time analytics, streamlined purchasing methods, fraud detection and personalised customer search recommendations.

But the real benefit for retailers has been within customer service.

Early integration of automated chatbots had clear limitations. But today’s conversational AI has advanced hugely and can be used 24/7 to help support customers through their purchasing journeys.

These intelligent systems can understand and respond to customer queries, provide product recommendations, and even create automated promotional offers based on a customer’s past purchasing history and preferred items.

This not only improves customer satisfaction but also allows retailers to free up human resources for more complex tasks.

The next-gen customer experience should focus on accessibility and inclusivity.

AI technology has been essential for enabling retailers to focus heavily on accessibility and inclusivity.

The speed at which technology can provide closed captions on videos, translate content into various languages and even create rendered images is incredible. At the touch of a button, you can create a wholly inclusive online shopping experience that will help you to reach a wider and more diverse audience.

We welcome the flexibility of these tools, particularly when it comes to personalisation strategies. For example, a UK retailer could use AI to determine a customer’s language preferences. If English is their second language, AI-driven language translation tools could be used to match that customers’ personal preferences.

Similarly, AI can be used to improve website accessibility by offering features such as screen readers, voice commands, and adaptive interfaces. These tools will ensure that every customer, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and shop online.

Our predictions for how AI will continue to evolve the overall customer experience

The progression of composable commerce will naturally allow retailers to focus heavily on creating a dynamic shopping experience like no other. Rather than being tied to a single platform, bound by its limitations, a composable commerce solution will allow you to pick and choose the AI integrations that you need to create the next-gen customer shopping experience.

We predict that in the next few years, retailers will maximise their AI investment in the following areas.

  • Hyper-Personalisation. We’re already moving towards this. But AI will go beyond merely changing product imagery. It will start to create bespoke offers based on your purchasing history, it will identify any repeat purchasing patterns (such as seasonal demand), and it will begin to use AI imagery to match your preferences. Personalisation will become increasingly crucial to establishing a solid relationship between retailers and individual customers.

  • Visual Search. Through the use of AI, we can create new visual ways to help customers find what they are looking for. For example, a customer could log into their account and upload a photo of something that they are looking for. Through AI, the visual search could match that specific search criteria. We’re already seeing how sites like Pinterest and Instagram are monetising visual search trends, and this will naturally filter through to online stores as well.

  • Voice Commerce. We recently wrote about the concept of voice commerce. While it may not yet have taken off from a transactional perspective, it could be integrated into post-transaction communications, such as delivery notifications or order updates. Amazon has already successfully managed this with their Amazon Alexa devices that sync with Amazon accounts. The challenge is to integrate these capabilities with other retailers. Voice commerce could also become the future of customer service. Rather than talking to a virtual assistant through text, you could integrate voice commands and have a two-way conversation with an assistant.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). The integration of AR and VR into the retail sector is nothing new. For years, we’ve seen furniture and decorating brands use these technologies to help consumers visualise how an item may look in their home. But now, we’re starting to see these technologies more elsewhere. The introduction of virtual changing rooms is helping customers to visualise how an item of clothing may look on their bodies. These immersive shopping experiences are helping customers to feel that they are involved with the brand, taking the mundane ordering process into something new and exciting.

AI should always align with your customer experience priorities.

AI technology is here to stay. When used strategically, we anticipate it will revolutionise the next-generation customer experience in the retail sector. It can maximise efficiencies by harnessing vast reams of data almost instantly.

This data can directly improve your wider supply chain efficiencies and streamline processes and workflows while also focusing heavily on delivering more personalised experiences that your shoppers can connect with.

By holistically combining your people, your tools and your customer experience strategy, you’ll have the right foundations in place for long-lasting success.

The challenge for retailers is to make sure that every technical plugin or investment into AI comes back to a straightforward question - “How will this help the end customer?”

Ultimately, if we want to maximise the impact of AI tools and see a direct improvement on our bottom lines, any investment into new technology should always be considered with the customer first and foremost. That way, you can continue to create a competitive edge whilst focusing your budget on the areas that matter most to consumers.

By holistically combining your people, your tools and your customer experience strategy, you’ll have the right foundations in place for long-lasting success.