Insights|5 Trends that will shape Retail in 2019

5 Trends that will shape Retail in 2019

With mobile as the heartbeat of online and offline shopping, voice is starting to develop as a channel for commerce and consumers increasingly demand transparency and tractability from the brands they do business with.

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Retail Trends 2019
by Sitel staff February 17, 2019 - 4 MIN READ

Mobile is the heartbeat of online and offline shopping, voice is starting to develop as a channel for commerce and consumers are increasingly demanding transparency and tractability from the brands they do business with.

Following NRF 2019 in New York, or Retail’s Big Show as it’s known in the industry, the first Hubday of the year dived into retail trends 2019.

1. Voice is getting louder

“Voice is starting to impose itself,” said Hub Institute co-founder and CEO Vincent Ducrey, of one of the biggest retail trends 2019. “Twenty-five percent of smart speaker users are already using their device to make a shopping list or fill a basket.”

Even a year ago, devices like Amazon Echo and Google Assistant were only available in the U.S. but now smart speakers are rolling out around the world and into a growing number of consumers’ living rooms. “But that’s just today,” said Ducrey. “Tomorrow voice is going to be everywhere, in the walls, in light fittings, in your car.”

As the technology becomes established in our daily lives, expect it to be mated more and more to screens for augmenting the experience. For example, even when completing a shopping list, having complementary information about a product’s health benefits or provenance will help improve the experience.

2. Shopping for good

And the fact is that increasingly people want to know everything about every product they may want to purchase, whether it’s an item of clothing or a TV dinner.

“Consumers want tractability and transparency,” Ducrey explained.

U.S. consumers are already prepared to pay more for products that are transparent in their marketing or from companies that support good causes, but the trend is growing to become more encompassing as millennials become a bigger addressable market.

“It’s a paradigm shift,” said Jérôme Camus Executive Partner, Global Business Services IBM. “Traditionally shoppers were sensitive to price, now they’re sensitive to everything they put in their basket and everything they put in their bodies.”

IBM has been working with global supermarket chain, Carrefour, to bring complete transparency and tractability to all of its own-label products by using a private blockchain.

“Blockchain itself doesn’t create traceability, traceability was already there,” explained Garance Osternaud Organizational manager for Carrefour, France. “But before blockchain it was in different formats and different places. Now our producers can communicate directly customers.”

If a customer wants to know that a chicken is antibiotic-free or that a potato was grown locally or organically, they can simply scan a QR code with their smartphone and get all the information they need.

3. Mobile removes friction

Retailers now understand that mobile is the epicenter of commerce. Whether shopping online or offline the smartphone informs the decision-making process – be it scanning a QR code or using a pricing comparison site while in a physical store to make certain of the best deal.

“Mobile is the key,” said Ducrey “There is lots of investment in IT systems but now retailers can invest directly in people’s pockets. Smartphones give customers superpowers in the shop.”

It could also be the key to removing the last point of friction in the physical retail environment – making a purchase. “By 2020 100 percent of new phones will have a biometric element and that could remove friction at the point of payment,” Ducrey continued.

As well as serving as a tool for scanning and paying for goods, the smartphone and its wallet function could also improve the loyalty program experience. Cultural and electronics chain FNAC has been testing a digital wallet as a replacement for its physical loyalty card for the past 12 months.

The system gives users a real-time view of how many points are on their account, alerts them to special offers or coupons and because of geo-location can prompt customers to go shopping when they’re within walking distance of a FNAC branch. “After a year we had a 98 percent retention rate of users renewing their subscription to this paid for service,” said David Nedzela, director for digital marketing FNAC Darty.

4. Intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The key to retail success is to offer a personalized experience, but unless we’re prepared to embrace technology it will be impossible to deliver on customer expectations.

“You cannot drag and drop your way to personalization,” said Allen Nance CMO of marketing automation firm Emarsys. “Human-driven personalization doesn’t scale.” Instead, if you want to market on an individual level, we have to embrace AI and allow it to make all of the calculations needed to send the right message to the right person at the right time. “You need remember that AI is the creation of data you don’t have,” continued Nance “To work, it has to learn something you don’t know. But by marrying marketers with machines, we can revolutionize the role of marketing.”

AI will leave marketers free to focus on strategy and on creating content, the things that marketers are good at.

5. Conversational customer service

Retailers are also missing an opportunity to revolutionize their customer service with AI. According to Jean-Christophe Hermann, EVP global retail, luxury, fashion and consumer goods for Valtech, it’s time to put customer service in a central, visible position.

“With conversational AI it’s an opportunity in fact to engage with customers and to open the channel up and make it strong and at the same time get a real return on investment,” said Hermann.

Chatbots, voicebots, smart automation and contact center speech analytics all help to augment CX and provide valuable data and insights into customer behavior and sentiment toward a brand and its products. What’s more those insights can also be used to inform the path to purchase, identifying new customers and better ways to serve them.

However, no matter how innovative these technologies become, they will never be able to replace the human touch, be it an expert in store or an empathetic customer advisor in a contact center helping to resolve a customer’s issue.

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