Over the past decade, retail has changed into a multi-channel game, with shoppers’ path to purchase becoming increasingly complex.
Even as Salesforce predicts that this Black Friday will be the busiest digital shopping day in North American history, their Connected Shopper Report shows many retailers are failing to meet consumers expectations, especially when it comes to using technology to enhance their experiences.
According to the report, retailers are falling behind as they struggle to make shoppers’ lives easier. In a survey of 1,000 Canadians, 58 per cent said that retail experiences are disconnected from channel to channel. Consumers also don’t think retailers know them, as 66 per cent feel unrecognized.
In terms of using technology to aid in that process, 56 per cent of Canadian shoppers like when retailers offer product recommendations based on purchasing history, and 51 per cent are willing to share preferences data if it meant receiving faster or more convenient service in-store.
Technology and AI can influence how easy shopping is, and Salesforce found out what top features would appeal to consumers if they were implemented in their experience.
The top technology capability, requested by 22 per cent of respondents, was the ability to search merchandise in a physical store or online catalog using an image and receiving different recommendations based on the attributes of that image.
Personalized offers in a digital channel such as email or an app based on purchasing history were requested by 21 per cent, while personal offers provided by an in-person associate at a brick and mortar store was third with 20 per cent.
The study also found that most shoppers still use websites to research and buy products, but newer options like messaging apps are coming on strong. With the rise of AI-enabled chatbots, this trend will only increase as more companies adopt a consumer-facing messaging retail technology.
“The winners and losers are getting defined every minute as we march into retail’s most important season, said Shelley Bransten, SVP retail industry solutions at Salesforce. “The stakes continue to rise for retailers to leverage artificial intelligence and emerging voice platforms to deliver seamless, connected and personalized brand experiences.”
Still though, mobile will trump all soon enough, as traffic through our handheld devices will account for 60 per cent of total traffic to retail sites across the globe this shopping season, according to Salesforce. If the trends mean anything it’s that retailers need to optimize for mobile but maintain a presence in each digital channel, while preparing for upcoming shifts aided by technology, such as chatbots.
Salesforce is a global customer relationship management company that empowers companies to better connect with their consumers by providing key insights and reporting into behaviours.