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GUEST COMMENT Why AI-powered personalisation is the future for retail

The goal is to understand the customer enough to engage them.

There is no shortage of threats facing the retail industry, whether it’s falling consumer spending, record store closing figures, inflation increases, the increasing dominance of Amazon or social networks moving in on ecommerce for revenue growth.

In this environment of ever-thinner margins, the growth area of online is seen almost as a holy grail, one that may help rescue brands that might otherwise have joined the familiar names that have recently gone bankrupt.

Businesses need to ensure their ecommerce strategies show customers the products they’ll find most relevant, in real-time and on the channel they are browsing, whether that’s desktop, tablet or mobile. Additionally, mobile is increasingly the channel with the greatest share of total online traffic,having overtaken desktop in 2017. According to Qubit research, at the end of 2017 mobile-influenced sales accounted for double the traffic of desktop.

However, compared with desktop, mobile transactions face a dramatic drop off in the latter stages of the customer journey. The main reason? Customers can’t find what they’re looking for. Poor product discovery is the biggest barrier for mobile shoppers, reflected in the fact that more consumers complete their purchases on desktop than mobile. Consumers are getting fed up with having to use the hamburger menu or search on their phones to find and discover the products they want. A recent Qubit survey found that 81% of consumers are willing to switch their loyalty for more personalisation. Therefore, brands must inspire visitors with the products visitors are looking for, otherwise they will miss out on revenue.

By taking a desktop-first approach rather than addressing the issues that plague mobile shopping experiences, brands are missing out on up to 33% increase in digital revenue. This can be rectified by providing customers with the right products, at the right time, and with the right experience. But how?

With data. Collecting it, analysing it and using it to influence the visitor journey in real-time is the key. The data point that the visitor creates when they arrive on a site is a great place to start. That single data point, and all of its associated characteristics, including timestamp, geolocation, and referral source, provide a foundation from which brands can start to take back control of the customer experience.

The initial goal is to understand the customer enough to engage them. Through that engagement,a brand can prompt the customer to explore their catalogue and discover more. In the processes, they’ll learn about their customers’ preferences, laying the foundations for unique, 121 experiences that will increase customer retention and lifetime value.

Doing this manually would be impossible. However, with AI you can show the customer more
products—more products they want to see—and tailor experiences to each individual. And when
customers see more of what they like, they buy more.

This concept has been backed by the likes of eBay who recently stated that ‘there’s no human out there who can understand tens of thousands of categories of product inventory, be an expert in each of them, and do it all in milliseconds.’ Now is the time for brands to turn to AI and machine learning to help visitors discover more of the catalogue.

Over the next one to two years, Qubit expects to see a huge investment from marketers in
technology that enables them to create a ‘mobile-first’ approach to ecommerce. Without an
Amazon-esque experience, brands don’t stand a chance in the modern retail market. Intuitive
solutions that can create an experience that engages consumers and creates brand loyalty will help retailers win in today’s tough environment.

Author: Written by Graham Cooke, chief executive officer at Qubit

Image credit: Fotolia 

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