With smart technologies and artificial intelligence, the last few years have been rich in innovations transforming the buying experience. What are the successes and failures? The time has come to take in the facts to study the results and optimize them.
Technology is now in many aspects of our lives, especially with smart personal assistants such as Amazon, Echo or Google Home. By a simple voice command, we can turn on lights, adjust the temperature before arriving at home, or even start cooking meals. In Québec, many families have transitioned to the smart house, as we can see in this Radio-Canada article.
In short, these technologies are “reprogramming” us and slowly inducing new behaviours—when it’s worth it. However, it is not the case for all technologies—let’s just think of the Google Glasses that disappeared from the market a couple of years ago.
In retail, the keen interest for smart technologies was so intense that some believed it to be the panacea that would seduce and engage consumers, which isn’t necessarily the case. In this Bloomberg article, we learn that only 18% of the 1,000 surveyed found that the Smart mirror enhances their shopping experience.
Simplicity before anything else: this is what Ozlo, a young startup, believes. Its mission is to make interactions with conversational agents more pertinent and personalized. In this PSFK article “Teaching AI how to ask consumers better questions,” the firm advises brands to bet on simple questions, without any detours or promotional extras to better reach their consumers. One of the biggest challenges of a smart interface is to reach the conversational level; to understand the meaning of what the consumer wants in order to properly answer.
In one of his last articles, Doug Stephens, a prominent futurist known for books such as The Retail Revival, doesn’t sugarcoat it. For him, most retailers don’t understand that the design of a retail experience has to go further than simple appearance. It has to have a real impact with the consumer. It is what he also argues in his last book, which was just published on Amazon.
For him, designing a real consumer experience that surprises has to deconstruct the existing experience in order to reconstruct it, micromoment by micromoment. When thought that way, technology becomes more of a means than an end. On the other hand, creativity and agility become essential for any brand that wants to stand out.
In the second part of this article, which will be published next week, we will address the key ingredients to create a remarkable retail experience.