Do you wish there were an exact science to choosing the right gift for a loved one this holiday season? With artificial intelligence, we may be getting closer.
Holiday retail sales are expected to reach $682 billion this year, and according to the 2017 Deloitte holiday retail survey, the average holiday shopper plans to purchase 15 gifts this season – one more gift than last year. 53% of survey respondents also report that they play to buy “indulgent” gifts.
But will quantity of gifts equal quality? Leveraging data and artificial intelligence, retailers have a unique opportunity help consumers better answer the age-old question, “What should I get Mom for the holidays?” by providing highly personalized recommendations exactly when and where the consumer is ready to purchase.
In 2017 and beyond, it’s predicted that machine learning and artificial intelligence will continue to help retailers create one-of-a-kind, personalized, relevant experiences that build trust and loyalty with customers and generate higher-value transactions. This evolving technology can scan social media and reviews, filtering spam and irrelevant material, to help companies offer higher quality content and personalized product offerings.
“When we use AI and machine learning to analyze customer experiences outside of our industries, we gather new insights, which can lead to innovation across the entire customer journey and in the creation of new touch points,” says Brian Solis, Principal Analyst, Altimeter, a Prophet company, in The Executive’s Handbook to Digital Commerce. “This helps in the development of new processes, services, or products that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. But success depends upon how data scientists process and analyze data, and whether leadership prioritizes fundamentally changing course based on insights.”
The trick is utilizing data and artificial intelligence effectively to not only provide the perfect recommendation, but to create a seamless experience that allows the customer to purchase at the exact place and time of their choosing.
As discussed by Katrina Gosek and Alistair Galbraith at Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience 2017 conference, modern customers no longer complete transactions in one place – they use mobile to check product availability or shipment status, voice to search for products, go into a physical store to take a closer look, consult a trusted friend or chatbot for advice, and more.
The key for retailers is tracking the customer throughout the journey to provide the most relevant recommendations, and using the data collected to tweak, adjust, and test experiences and interactions. Cloud technology lowers the cost of this continuous testing, trying, failing, and trying again – with the aim of achieving a successful interaction, as explained by Nikki Baird, Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research, in her story about a tea seller’s website. Through AI, the tea seller’s website was able to determine that “zen” is a descriptor that specifically appeals to a particular shopper, and in turn was able to create and recommend a “zen teapot” product category to the shopper.
Let’s apply the same concept to searching for a holiday gift. Imagine the descriptor is your mom’s favorite pastime, restaurant, color, vacation destination, or all of the above. Through AI, a retailer can use this information to create a set of highly personalized gift ideas that mom is sure to love – with an easy return or exchange process as a backup.
And if you don’t yet have AI to help you find the perfect gift for your mom this holiday, the SmarterCX.com team asked New Yorkers to provide their own ideas in the video below.
For more CX holiday insights, visit smartercx.com/holiday.