I had the opportunity of attending a retail round-table event hosted by Ann-Marie Stagg and the CCMA in London last week, titled ‘The Future of Retail’.
As you would expect, AI and Bots were heavily featured, although interestingly, voice was still a channel of choice, or ultimate destination for many of retail consumers.
Ann-Marie kicked us off and introduced Ben Page from Ipsos Mori, who was followed by Marcus Hickman, both market research, customer insight and data organisations.
19% of consumer interaction is in store or by phone, with 15% being digital only, this included social media, apps and chat bots, with the remaining 66% utilising a multi-channel approach of interaction, therefore using more than one channel. Marcus’s insight showed that customers want to make calls and one of the challenges for some was the challenge in identifying the customers, cross channel communications, or interactions and the customer being asked to repeat or give information multiple times.
Marcus spoke about the “Voice Technology of the Future”, with 2 in 3 consumers wanting Chatbots like Google with a more interactive quick response, they also want to be able to access customer service through smart speakers and to bypass verification via voice biometrics.
One thing that was highlighted through both Ben’s and Marcus’s presentation was the importance of “Trust”. Trust of a brand and our interactions with them, are paramount to drive loyalty and allow us to build “memories and moments”, which are key to a great customer experience.
Ben Lyons and Adrian Morley from the Co-op, shared their progress, taking the “Bot” to the next level and presented the Robot that can deliver consumer goods to your door, with its innovative GPS technology, taking convenience to the next level. Watching their video and how this comes to life created great interest in the room.
Our individual round-table discussion chose ‘multi-channel’ as our subject, but again voice seemed to dominate several high profile and leading brands.
The afternoon panel discussion covering the effects of AI and chatbots, with representatives from Lego, John Lewis, Wilko, Asos and Co-op take to the stage, it was interesting to see the different stages of AI across these, the challenges and success stories behind their achievements.
My personal overview of the day is, although digital is a significant and driving force across retail, with many online transactions driving business, the statistics show, at least today, that customers want freedom of choice to use a mix of channels for their communications, with Voice still being a prominent factor, at least for now…..