- Retail management consulting firm BRP released its 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey and found 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty with tactics including improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels per a press release.
- The survey also found that 45% of retailers intend to begin using artificial intelligence within three years to enhance the customer experience.
- In the press release, Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP, described the customer experience in unified commerce as more complex than in pure e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environments adding the complexity “expands exponentially” as technologies including social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning impact the retail sector and its customer journey.
A significant number of retail store closings so far in 2017 point to the challenges brick-and-mortar merchants face as e-commerce continues to grow. At the time, there are also signs that innovate technology like AR, AI and shoppable social is helping some segments, like beauty, buck the broader downward trends.
The unified commerce customer experience highlight by BRP points to one of the challenges facing traditional retailers, which is having to provide expected in-store experiences like being able to physically examine merchandise and interact with sales associates as well as unique and personalized e-commerce shopping engagements that are now expected by many consumers. While many retailers are already active in e-commerce to varying degrees, they will need to adopt newer technologies to stay current with consumers' expectations.
BRP's Kramer framed next-gen technology as exponentially expanding the complexity of retail, suggesting a significant issue retailers could face going forward will be the learning curve that will coincide with the maturation of emerging tech like AI, the machine learning subset of AI and even the proliferation of IoT devices. While technology might be a source of complexity, it is also very likely to become the future solution to the challenges facing retailers adjusting to the unified commerce customer experience and journey.