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PREDICTIONS How retailers and brands may look to automation in 2023

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Each year, InternetRetailing starts to look ahead to the coming new year in a series of predictions. Today’s predictions explore how retailers and brands could turn to automation in 2023 – and what they will use it for.

Automation in selling

Sean Evers, VP of sales at Pipedrive, says: ”2023 will be another tough year of rebuilding, for many sellers. The past couple of years have been a challenge, but what has marked out the success of many was their preparedness by dint of software and automation support, as well as continued investment in marketing, as borne out by our 2022 State of Sales and Marketing report.

“As enterprises continue to weather the recession storm, we will see a real focus on automation to support better selling, smarter commerce, and the drive for maximal efficiency. Firms will be looking to secure every penny of revenue and keep staff motivated and happy. Hence the need for increased automation, to better support employees’ working experiences and save staff sanity for the jobs that require real intelligence and empathy.”

Automation in marketing

Sara Varni, chief marketing officer at Attentive says: ”AI will be the solution for marketers trying to do more with less budget. The challenging economic environment will mean marketers are tasked with getting the most out of a limited budget. Marketers will focus on making tweaks to increase engagement and extending the lifetime of existing campaigns. AI and automation will be key – helping to write high-performing copy, determine when and what to send.”

Automation in the last mile – and beyond

Paul Maguire, head of retail delivery at Endava, says: “Retailers will have to rethink strategies due to the inflation effect. As economic pressures weigh down on both retailers and consumers, the market is likely to see a shift in priorities on both sides. Businesses will seek out smart process automation and mobile device solutions to make more efficient use of staff time, boost productivity and drive down costs. In particular, technology will be leveraged in last mile services to accelerate delivery times, while further downsizing of in-store product ranges will reduce the cost of stock holding and logistics and maximise availability.

“As consumers feel the pinch on their finances, we will also see an increase in sales and decision lead times on non-essential purchases which may require a rethink in marketing and retention techniques. There will naturally be a greater adoption of innovative credit solutions too. However, retailers should be wary of perceptions around expanding credit schemes and responsibly develop propositions or products accordingly.”

Automating personalisation

Sebastian Reeve, director, strategy and business development at Nuance, says: “Leading retailers have been personalising digital shopping experiences in one way or another for many years now—personalised product recommendations based on past purchases, for example, have been commonplace for a long time. However, next year, this will become the norm and those who do not shift toward hyper-personalisation – where every interaction is relevant and based on real customer needs in that moment – will miss out.

“In order to hyper-personalise effectively, retailers will need a complete understanding of each customer’s historical relationship and recent interactions with a brand, which means data from every channel will have to be aggregated and analysed by powerful AI solutions. That brings us back to the need for digital contact centres that merge previously siloed engagement channels and provide a layer of intelligence that can understand and predict customer needs in real time.

Alexios Blanos, UK business director at M-Cube, says: “Retail leaders will explore how AI, Big Data and the metaverse can personalise consumer experiences. As the physical and the digital world continue to come together in the next decade, we will see retailers use AI to optimise and personalise customer experiences. A report from Accenture confirmed that 86% of organisations have adapted to the disruption of the pandemic and found the new normal. This will continue to be the trend in 2023 with the use of AI and Big Data and the impact of the ‘metaverse.’”

Exploring artificial intelligence

Sarah McVittie, co-founder of Dressipi, says: “With AI comes the rise of avatars, the metaverse and voice search – to name just a few! We are not saying that by next year every brand will be able to give customers a 3D avatar of themselves but we will start to see more brands putting the building blocks in place so they can hit the ground running when the time comes.

This increase in AI and personalisation will also see customers becoming more confident to make bigger online purchases and we’ll definitely be seeing the influence of fashion trends from the metaverse in how people dress in real life.”

Connecting with customers in the metaverse

Richard Cudd, senior director, customer success engineering at Confluent, says: “While the metaverse technology is still nascent, we expect more and more retailers to start tapping into the virtual immerse world simply because it offers brands new, different and innovative ways to engage customers and encourage brand loyalty. Take the likes of Adidas, Burberry, Gucci and Tommy Hilfiger who are among the top retailers that have purchased metaverse real estate over the past year.

“However, for retailers to get the most out of the metaverse, they need to leverage the power of data. Ultimately the challenge isn’t that retailers don’t have enough data, it’s knowing how to best use the data they have. This requires retailers to proactively get a better handle on data, ensuring that it is well-governed, accurate, and trustworthy enabling them to achieve their number one goal of customer engagement through exceptional, highly personalised and relevant experiences.”

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