Over the holiday season, did you soak in all the ways wireless, digital technologies are transforming retail, making the customer experience more individualized and compelling both in-store and online?
Walk into any store in the new year and you might knowingly or unknowingly be impacted by 5G + IoT + AI video analytics + voice recognition/conversation commerce. The advent of 5G-driven, digitally infused communications will not only personalize customer experience, but it will also simplify and automate what used to be meaningless or difficult tasks for shoppers. As retailers learn the patterns of behaviors for people as a whole and as individuals, they will recognize how customers search for products and brands, and what use cases are most valuable to them.
In the past, how many times has there been a tinge of frustration at trying clothes on and seeing you need the next size up or a different color, and needing to call out for an associate or re-dress to get what you want? What if the mirror in the dressing room leveraged RFID tags to recognize what you’re trying and offered suggestions of what you might like, perhaps automatically sending notification to an assistant? What if you could tie into social media platforms and instantly send pictures or video to your friends so they could offer their opinions on what you’re trying on?
These scenarios are becoming reality, and as you go to the store more often, AI will help retailers recognize your likes and dislikes so that suggestions can be proactively sent to your smartphone with accompanying coupons for discounts or sales. Additionally, facial recognition systems will respond to your facial cues and further customize your options, as AI-driven, predictive technologies will know what you want perhaps before you do! Consider how McDonalds has an opt-in trial going on for personalization through new drive-thru touchscreens that base product recommendations on the license plate as well as the weather, wait time and item popularity at the moment the vehicle pulls up to the drive-thru window.
Another area prime for 5G is that of inventory and supply chain, as embedded IoT sensors will yield “smart shelves” that communicate with suppliers through 5G-connected software applications. This may also become a way to revolutionize theft prevention.
With all of these changes afoot, retail may become unrecognizable a few years from now. What do you think about these changes, and will it change the choices and purchases you make? How do you think the wealth of information can help retailers evolve their marketing and sales strategies?