Retail Trends: Machine Learning and Augmented Reality
In the future of retail, where technology will be an enabler of convenience and experience, the possibilities are endless for creative marketers to stand above and apart from competing brands. When retailers can enhance and add value to the customer experience, they should be leveraging technology to create a holistic view of their customer and blend the line between virtual and reality to better serve their customers.
1. Use Machine Learning for Hyper-Personalisation
According to a recent Saleforce.com study, 58% of consumers identified personalisation as an important factor in driving purchase intention, with 57% of consumers willing to exchange personal data in return for tailored offers and discounts. Brands with loyalty programs are collecting and attributing customer data across thousands of touchpoints. How do you action on this information? Machine learning built from customer data means brands can identify how to design communication campaigns around target segments, better match customers to the products they are most likely to use and keep and deliver personalised experiences to customers. Stitch Fix is a great example of hyper-personalisation. The on-demand styling service uses machine learning to tailor its client offerings, suggesting items based on the customer’s preferences and their selection process. This approach has resulted in over 83% and 86% of clients returning within 90 days for a second order in 2016 and 2017, respectively.
2. Blur the Offline and Online Experience Through Augmented Reality
How do the best brands enable a better customer experience? Augmented reality enables bricks-and-mortar retailers to take the customer interaction with their products to the next level, thus, creating unique experiences that blend digital and physical shopping. Retailers can superimpose a virtual layer of digital information over the physical object (such as offers or other calls to action) to make decision making or purchasing easier, thereby, delivering a better experience. Retailers can leverage AR to:
Display offers on the go, directing shoppers to the item’s precise location on the shelf
Allow customers to virtually experience the product
Let customers check product availability and make a purchase just by scanning the product no matter where they see it – be it in a magazine or in a friend’s hands!
One US cosmetics brand is a great example of blending virtual and physical. Their AR apps let users apply makeup and hair looks to their selfies before buying the products. This allows their marketing team to gain immense data on what their consumers prefer, in terms of colors, looks, texture, and helps them deliver relevant makeup collections.
3. Bring Tech Together for Seamless Cx
Retailers shouldn’t innovate for the sake of innovation. Rather, the end goal should always be serving the customer. AR and Machine Learning are most effective when retailers have a holistic view of their customer. The most effective tactic in building out deep customer profiles – what we call the Golden Profile – is a loyalty initiative, in which by its nature customers volunteer their priceless data in exchange for relevant messaging and offers. From there, advanced tech such as AR and ML, along with predictive analytics, allow brands to customise customer journeys and tie tech together for a seamless, omni-channel (and even channel-agnostic) customer experience.
Aimia is a leading global loyalty provider. Its latest offering, SmartJourney®, is a 6-Step methodology for individualised loyalty journeys. Please find out more here.