The past year has been a revolutionary accelerator in terms of technology. Due to the pandemic, 2020 became a year that forced organizations across industries to transform themselves digitally and adapt to a remote environment, both in terms of internal and external operations. Consumers have adapted and become more tech-centric giving a much higher focus on online shopping than ever before.
Digital transformation in the retail sector has now become unavoidable and will continue to disrupt the industry in the direction of the ecosystem that its consumers adapt to.
Here are a few trends to look forward to that might reshape the way technology works in the retail sector.
Leveraging Chatbots and Virtual Assistants to create a seamless customer experience
Interactive Virtual assistants and chatbots are being incorporated into many retailer’s customer service processes to create an intuitive experience for their consumers. By leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, retailers are taking it a step further by integrating voice — recognition technology as well as custom mobile CRM’s to engage their consumers extensively.
Virtual assistants are now being used to provide 24/7 support to the consumers, reduce the probability of cart abandonment through notifications and messages, create an omnichannel experience by offering a consistent experience across multiple channels, help in tracking and obtaining information about orders, and finally give custom recommendations to the consumers based on their previous activity. Moreover, A study by Gartner predicts that $8 billion in business expenses will be saved by chatbots by 2022.
Contactless Experience — Enhancement
2020 introduced the world to a new facet of user experience termed Contactless Experience. From a model that involved using human touchpoints at accessible intervals to facilitate user experience, the world gradually shifted towards eradicating these touchpoints and substituting them with technology to suit the now evolved consumer.
Retailers have been trying to streamline this process to create a more safer and seamless experience. Technologies have been extensively leveraged to create custom digital environments to facilitate consumers and improve their shopping experience. Features such as contactless payments, contactless checkout, and delivery have been quickly integrated into both the retailer as well as the consumers’ payment cycles. A study by NMI in 2020 reported that 43% of consumers avoided retailers that did not offer contactless payments such as Apple pay, RFID tap to pay digital cards, and other digital wallets.
Omniservice Experience through Hybrid apps and platforms
Retailers are now investing in creating an Omni service experience for consumers by relying on secondary messaging applications such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messengers to engage with consumers. Apart from this, they are using Omni channels such as Instagram and Facebook shop to drive home their projects.
While this is one kind of experience enhancement, retailers are looking to bring all their applications across platforms to save development time, deliver the same customer experience across platforms and update and upgrade by making changes in one place rather than across multiple codebases.
AR/VR powered shopping experience
Retailers have been experimenting with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for a while now and this only skyrocketed with the coming of the pandemic. Shopping experiences have been mapped to in-store and online AR/VR functionalities that give the consumer an in-depth understanding of the products. A 2019 survey by Nielsen tells us that new-age consumers listed AR & VR as the top technologies to help assist them in their daily lives.
Virtual Consultations to establish a personal shopping experience
Retailers are now offering personalized consumer-facing virtual consultations through online video integrations to assist consumers in making purchases, for queries and feedback, online service assistance with products, and product demos. Virtual consultations have also taken a front seat in terms of brand building, using the platform to establish trust between the brand and its consumers.