Top Four Digital Transformation Trends In Retail For 2019
You’ve likely already realized it can be difficult to tell whether you’re dealing with a person or bot when you seek chat support online—at least for certain savvy retailers. And those seamless chat experiences make a huge difference in customer retention. I recently had an experience where a shipment from Amazon was marked “delivered” but had not been received. When I chatted to their support team, they instantly told me I was a valued customer and they quickly refunded me. There is no doubt in my mind, cognitive computing was helping this chat session along—instantly calculating how many problem-free purchases I’d made on Amazon Prime this year (hint: a lot), and that a $60 refund was tiny in the vast scheme of our shopping. I closed the chat within a minute or two—completely fulfilled and ready to purchase from Amazon again. That’s the value of cognitive computing in 2019.
To me, this is the kind of customer experience retailers need to be pushing if they want to stay competitive this coming year. Yes, it’s cool to give AR and VR experiences. But in the end, customers want to feel valued, and they want shopping experience to be quick and easy. Fancy VR will bring them in the door, but everyday improvements will keep them coming back.
As for smart beacons, they had their growing pains, but I think we’ll be seeing “proximity marketing” becoming a lot more popular this year, especially with advancements being made by Google Beacon technology. Honestly, it feels strange that it hasn’t taken off already, given how quickly the rest of the market has moved with IoT and data collection. But the kinks should be figured out by 2019.
This will also be the year when we see how much “push” consumers are willing to take, and whether there are any limits to where they’re willing to be marketed.
One of the most frustrating things these days is making a shopping run, only to get to the cashier to find they don’t take ApplePay—and that I have no wallet on-hand, some of you may be scratching your head at a this, but cardless payments will be the way of the future. In 2019, we should be seeing some improvements in cashless/cardless retail. It may be one of the unsung heroes in terms of digital transformation trends in retail—but for those of us apt to forget out wallets and purses, this will be a huge push forward. And it will definitely impact which retailers I choose to shop with in the coming year.
Obviously, mobile apps and data collection will continue to reign. You don’t need to be a psychic or tech guru to expect that. My anticipation in 2019 is that they may “reign” too hard—meaning customers will get app fatigue, tired of having to download every store’s individual app to get this week’s coupon or latest deal. (Target found that out the hard way with Cartwheel.) In 2019, there will be some great opportunities for companies who can help centralize customers’ app sprawl to make shopping from one spot even easier. The IoT will continue to be strong in terms of data collection—and that retailers will continue to find new and better ways to use the date they’re gathering in useful ways, from improving store layouts to changing product offerings. My gut says, however, the IoT will move to the background of the shopping experience. Retailers will use it to gather data, but “IoT” proper will lose its buzzword strength as customers begin to care less about how the technology works—and care more about experiencing a seamless, simple, easy shopping experience.