Connected retail: the future of customer experience

Connected retail: the future of customer experience

In recent years, the retail industry has seen a seismic shift in the way that brands target, acquire, and engage with customers.

Less than ten years ago, the term ‘influencer marketing’ was unheard of, and next-day delivery was a nice-to-have bonus rather than the expectation. What’s more is that few could’ve predicted your main acquisition channel being a photo-led social media platform (hello, Instagram.)

Today, customers are switched on 24/7, 365 days a year. They have the power to like, follow, and buy from their favorite brands on their own terms, in the way that best suits them. In short, the modern shopper is more demanding of retailers than ever before. The key to keeping them happy, we believe, is to provide a connected retail experience – one that is powered by data and AI.

The rise of connected retail

The notion of ‘connected retail,’ also often known as ‘unified commerce,’ is becoming increasingly talked about by both analysts and retailers.

Connected retail definition:
“Providing a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping with no limitations by channel.” (Gartner)

Those retailers who are successfully providing unified commerce solutions and a connected retail experience to customers are connecting three key elements of the customer journey; referred to in Adyen’s retail research report as context, convenience, and control. We believe that the only way to truly achieve this is by using AI to generate value from a retailer’s vast amounts of data.

Context refers to a customer’s desire to be treated as an individual. They have an expectation of brands to provide them with a truly personalized, one-to-one experience. Complete personalization is only possible by making the most of data – data on a customer’s brand and style preferences, shopping habits, or transaction history, for example. With AI, you can scale this personalization to talk to millions of customers on an individual basis, ensuring that you’re delivering customers the right message at the right time, via the right channel.

Convenience is, naturally, extremely important to customers. They expect to be able to browse and buy when, where, and how it best suits them – and they want to know that the items they want are in stock, in their size, ready to ship. However, for retailers, delivering convenience to customers can be tricky. With hundreds of stores, thousands of SKUs, and millions of website visitors, ensuring that the right products are in the right place is only achievable with AI. It crunches the billions of possibilities around stock allocation, merchandising, markdowns, and buying to reduce complexity and enable more intelligent decision-making.

Control is all about customers being able to engage with retailers on their own terms – with no concerns around payment options, delivery windows, or returns processes. However, this can be challenging when your retail business is dealing with thousands of orders a day and complex distribution centers. With AI, you can optimize the flow of products to and from customers, streamlining your supply chain to help warehouse operations and logistics processes run more smoothly.

By its definition, connected retail should be focused on keeping the customer happy at all times, providing them with a truly personalized experience whether they’re shopping on their phone, in the office, or in-store. But what does a connected retail journey actually  look like?

Let’s take a look at an example of an AI-optimized, ominichannel connected retail/unified commerce experience…

Connected retail customer journey

At Peak, we work with a wide range of retailers, helping them to rapidly leverage their data with our AI System and our suite of unified commerce-enabling solutions.

With AI, we help brands utilize personalization to target and acquire new “ideal” customers, improve productivity and forecasting in merchandising and buying functions, and streamline the supply chain to drive efficiencies and reduce costs.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the potential AI opportunity for your retail business, we’d love to hear from you.

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