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Generative AI ‘revolutionising’ retail customer communication channels

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From revolutionising the nuts and bolts of supply chain operations to turbo-charging customer service, generative artificial intelligence (genAI) stands on the forefront of innovation in retail – its ability to fabricate hyper-customised content is turning the tables in marketing and communication strategies.

That’s according to says GlobalData, with the analyst’s Practice Head of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData stating: “In a retail environment where the product-to-experience shift is increasingly significant, genAI can enable the creation of immersive, personalised experiences, integrating virtual and physical retail spaces in a manner that resonates with modern consumers’ expectations. Moreover, it is no longer about a one-size-fits-all engagement; rather, it is about a tailor-made experience catering to individual needs.”

Saurabh Daga, Associate Project Manager of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, added: “By leveraging key data points from customers’ purchase history and preferences, genAI can facilitate building personalized shopping experiences and targeted marketing strategies. The technology can empower retailers to deliver superior service at reduced costs, leading to greater customer satisfaction.”

GlobalData’s latest Innovation Radar report, “Cognitive revolution: genAI meets retail,” offers a comprehensive view of how the disruptive technology is being deployed across the retail value chain, from inventory management and personalized marketing to customer experience and support.

GenAI can transform retail operations such as inventory planning, product recommendations, and customer service. Promising genAI applications include creating new product designs based on defined criteria and sentiment analysis to predict customer trends.

Traditional retailers like Carrefour and IKEA are using genAI to streamline operations and augment customer support. Meanwhile, e-commerce players like Amazon, Shopify, and Instacart are leveraging genAI to improve online shopping experiences and increase cart conversion rates. Big technology companies such as Google and Salesforce are offering genAI solutions to help e-commerce players as well as retailers optimize their online customer engagement.

Daga concluded: “While there are inherent challenges in implementing genAI, particularly in consumer-facing sectors like retail, the potential for substantial progress is undeniable. Challenges such as content quality and privacy must be managed through strong governance. Small and medium retailers can benefit from strategic partnerships to overcome entry barriers required to build the supporting technology, infrastructure, and personnel for genAI implementation.”

Demand for a blended omnichannel customer experience grows

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While almost half of consumers (47%) preferring to visit the high street to shop for clothing in person, new research indicates consumer readiness to shop in-store now comes with a new set of expectations when it comes to ongoing engagement.

That’s according to NTT DATA, which says that over the past couple of years, consumers have been pushed to shop online more than ever, becoming accustomed to the enhanced personalisation capabilities and tightly tailored experience offered by online shopping.

The problem, though, was the lack of realness – the lack of a sensory, traditional shopping experience that accompanies in-store retailing. Now, with consumers eager to return to shopping in stores, retailers need to be ready to accommodate them by delivering enhanced customer experiences.

NTT DATA UK&I’s research, which questioned a representative sample of 2,000 consumers in the UK, set out to discover what consumers are looking for when it comes to their retail experience in 2023.

The findings show that 53% of consumers expect a clean and easy shopping experience in-store, facilitated by more immersive, personalised, and contactless services. The first port of call to improve the customerexperience starts with streamlining the payments process, as almost two-thirds of respondents (61%) claimed self-service and cashier-less checkouts would encourage them to shop in-store more often.

The findings also uncovered that consumers now want to bring the online shopping experience into the store as well, having the option to view all information on a product, while still being able to have the traditional shopping experience. 1 in 5 respondents said the introduction of QR codes on products to view additional information that they would normally see online, such as prices, reviews, and the provenance of items, would greatly improve the in-store shopping experience.

Other technologies that have grabbed consumers’ attention for the in-store shopping experience also include smart mirrors (16%), interactive display screens in-store (13%), and app integrations (13%), where customers can select items on an app which are automatically sent to the fitting room or checkout while they continue to browse the store.

For retailers, this means implementing new technology and resources that will help them gain insights into their shoppers’ habits and preferences, allowing them to determine the ways they need to restrategise and retain their customers’ loyalty. This need will be especially important for luxury brands. With traditionally larger budgets to spend on new resources and technology, they have an opportunity to enhance the shopping experience by taking advantage of all available capabilities.

Key findings:

Technology can encourage consumers in-store for purchasing clothing:

  • 47% of consumers prefer to purchase clothing in-store on the high street.
  • 53% of consumers want a clean and easy shopping experience in-store.
  • 61% say that the option to use a cashier-less or self-service checkout would encourage them to shop in-store when purchasing clothing.
  • 20% of consumers want to see QR codes in-store which share more information on the products they are buying.
  • 16% say that smart mirrors would encourage them to shop in-store when purchasing clothing.
  • 13% would be encouraged in-store by interactive display screens.
  • 13% would be encouraged in-store by app integrations which allow them to select items via the app to be sent to a fitting room or checkout while continuing to browse.

Geoff Lloyd, Director of Retail at NTT DATA UK&I, said: “Consumers want to see more from retailers, especially after the online retail experience has evolved to become more personalised. By implementing the right, advanced digital systems to automate processes and offer additional insights, retailers can monitor their customers’ behaviours more effectively, and match the customer experience to their needs appropriately.

“Access to predictive analytics will prove especially beneficial to retailers as they start building resilience, meeting customer demands and maximising sales. Additionally, reassessing their 2023 plans and ensuring that effective strategies are in place, both online and in-store, will ensure they are offering a consistent, tech-savvy experience to their shoppers.

“Data insights are, and will continue to be, essential for retailers. Not only will these insights help brands assess what their customers want from them, but it will also help to personalise the shopping experience, building loyalty and protecting future profitability.”

The Store Re-Imagined: 3 tips for delivering tomorrow’s retail experience today

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By Alex MacPherson, Director of Solution Consultancy and Account Management, Manhattan Associates

There are few in retail circles who would argue that the role of the Store is the same as it ever was. With the rate of change accelerating like never before, consumers are throwing new challenges at retailers faster than they can implement solutions.

It’s no wonder that many retailers seem to be in a perpetual state of paralysis: first it was Covid-19 generating a ten year acceleration of digital commerce adoption; now a deceleration towards pre-Covid digital growth rates, combined with late 2021 inventory swing (collected to initially avoid supply chain shortages) has caused a surplus of merchandise so great, that it is contributing to many western economies teetering on the brink of recession.

The idea of the store as a laggard is nothing new. We let it be that way because it worked. However, the last few years have brought into focus the impact that the static store can have on retail businesses and there is undoubtedly an opportunity to adapt the store to the changed landscape it now occupies.

To do so effectively, retailers will need to adopt agile, flexible and often unfamiliar ways of working to ensure ongoing alignment with the expectations of a continually changing customer base. With increased consumer expectations for convenience, transparency and personalization, the opportunity to augment the store, if done correctly, has the potential to yield significant operating efficiencies and cultivate meaningful brand loyalty too.

Beyond 2022, a store equipped to support digitally initiated commerce workflows (from fulfilment to customer service and everything in between) will become the minimum viable product. Retailers that meet this and excel in areas beyond the baseline are those that will outperform their peers.

If you’re still reading I am likely preaching to the choir and you’re asking ‘so what are we to do about it?’ It’s a good news – bad news situation.

Bad news, there is no silver bullet or big technology project that can solve all of the challenges, it’ll take some smart humans too. The good news, however, having spent time with hundreds of global brands and retailers, we’ve distilled this thinking into a single place.

Below are three tips for retailers looking to reimagine and reinvent the role of one of their most valuable brand assets – the store.


In a world where discovery happens online and everything is available at our fingertips, it’s important to understand why your customers still go to the store.

The best retailers are gathering consumer insights (real data)  to identify what role the store plays in the consumer journey and optimise accordingly. For some, the convenience and immediacy of the store is critical. For others,  it’s a high touch and personalised buying experience. For most, it’s a unique blend that calls for a blended solution.

Well trained store teams, fast and flexible technology and data informed decision making are almost always part of getting it right. If you asked your entire team why customers visit stores, would everyone give the same answer? And, more importantly, would it be the same answer your customers provide?

Getting closer to your customer and understanding the way they think is step one.


While KPIs like conversion, sell through and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) undoubtedly matter, they aren’t the end-all, be-all for top performing retailers. Once you’ve figured out why customers go to the store, the next step is to figure out how to measure and improve your performance against their expectations.

Once retailers understand why their customers are visiting their stores, it’s important to be able to take a step back, look at the big picture and ask yourself: ‘do we really have the technology in place to continue to monitor our performance against these expectations?’

For every measure of fiscal performance or operating efficiency there needs to be a measurement for customer store satisfaction. Maybe it’s as simple as a Net Promoter Score, or maybe it’s something more advanced and revealing.

For example, if you were to compare online sales to retail sales within defined proximity ranges to the store (i.e.  five miles vs ten miles vs 25 miles), you could find out just how far customers are willing to travel for the store experience. And, within that customer segment, what are the variances between the digital customer, the store customer and the customer who shops both – now wouldn’t that be interesting to know?

If you’re looking for advanced metrics to better understand how the store impacts your customer base, that’s step two.


So how exactly should retailers be thinking about their stores in today’s changeable retail environment? It’s a big question, with many possible start points, but for us, we’d always start with data.

For modern-thinking, future-looking brands, the importance of being able to aggregate data (be that real-time inventory, transactional or even customer data passing it back and forth from digital channels like social media) is the key to success.

Take Point-of-Sale (POS) technologies as an example over the last few years. POS has come a long way since the rather perfunctory function of previous generations. No longer is POS simply a tool to complete a transaction (sales or returns) and the associated reporting, modern POS today represents the key to seamless, unified commerce, enabling activities such as endless aisle, click & collect, store fulfilment of online orders, clienteling and loyalty.

For example, ask yourself this: do your store associates have the training, tools and processes in place to meet new, more exacting customer expectations? Are there reliable, flexible, modern commerce tools in place to transact how customers want? Or, are your systems user-friendly and accurate enough to make navigating product availability easy for an associate to search and educate a customer on the spot?

Today’s retailers require technology with the infrastructure, agility, flexibility and scalability to join all the digital dots together if they are to maximise the potential of their stores and deliver a truly seamless, memorable customer experience.

Recognizing this and looking towards solutions that unify all aspects of the fulfilment process and customer journey is the third step to consider.

The changes the retail industry has witnessed more recently (accelerated by the pandemic) are no different to periods of change seen in the past – they are simply the latest in a long line of retail transformations and disruptions.

While the store of yesteryear may have been resigned to the annals of retail history, today’s stores are enjoying somewhat of a renaissance, in large part due to the new technology available.

With retailers today needing to rethink traditionally held ideas around assets and operations, it is no longer simply a matter of digital Vs. physical. Critically, it’s about how a brand can leverage all its merchandise, all of its customer data and all of the channels at its disposal to deliver that truly remarkable, seamless customerexperience.

Although the function of the store and the technology needed to operate it are fundamentally changed, today’s stores still have a key role to play in the retail narrative, and are still very much at the forefront of this latest retail revival.

Peak season delivery is more complex than ever: Here’s how to address the critical CX challenges and more

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By Andrew Tavener, Head of Fleet Marketing EMEA, Descartes 

With the holiday shopping season fast approaching, retailers are bracing for the logistical and customer service challenges that accompany peak season volumes. This year, though retailers face added complexity as they continue to struggle with inventory issues, staff shortages, and ongoing supply chain disruptions – not to mention rising fuel prices. At the same time, customer expectations for fast, convenient, on-time delivery and real-time delivery communication continue to grow. Throw into the mix an increasing focus amongst consumers on home delivery sustainability, and you have a maelstrom of factors that retailers have to contend with.

Delivery Performance Faltering

In the face of peak season order volumes, last-mile delivery has become a trigger point for defining the customer experience. Unfortunately, as consumers head into the holiday shopping season, many are frustrated and taking action against poor performers.

A recent study of 8,000 European and North American consumers found that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers experienced delivery problems in the October–December 2021 holiday shopping period. The top three issues (see Figure 1) were related to timeliness: deliveries were late (26 percent); deliveries didn’t arrive when promised (22 percent); and time windows for deliveries were too long and inconvenient (22 percent). Plus, a disgruntled 16 percent didn’t receive their delivery.

This poor delivery performance can be catastrophic for retailers during peak season, especially with many online vendors relying on high sales volumes during the holidays to buoy revenues. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of the study respondents refused to order from poorly performing retailers again; nearly a quarter lost trust in both the delivery company (24 percent) and the retailer (21 percent). Additionally, 17 percent of consumers indicated they advised friends and family to avoid the retailer. E-commerce vendors that accept mediocre delivery quality will likely experience hits to their holiday sales tallies as consumers turn to competitors that do find ways to meet consumers’ expectations.

Keeping Pace with Peak Season Demands

Meeting the delivery performance expectations of holiday shoppers begins well before the product is loaded onto the truck — with visibility into the warehouse. From an inventory management (and customer trust) perspective, retailers must ensure the products presented online accurately reflect available inventory. Furthermore, consumers should be able to choose from various delivery options at the point of sale (POS).

On the home delivery front, while delivery speed remains – for many consumers – a factor in purchase decisions, notably, consumers place more value on retailers keeping their delivery promise. To meet delivery expectations and keep customers happy (preventing failed deliveries and returning for post-holiday purchases), e-commerce retailers must find ways to boost last-mile efficiency, productivity and reliability.

Increased Value on Sustainable Home Delivery

If all these factors weren’t challenging enough, further research around home delivery sustainability has revealed its increasing importance to a significant percentage of consumers. Indeed, only 38 percent of over 8000 consumers across nine countries in Europe and North America thought that most retailers were doing a good job of sustainable home delivery.

Furthermore, 60 percent of consumers today have environmental importance expectations for their home deliveries – from combining orders, accepting longer lead times for delivery, to having the retailer recommend the most friendly delivery option. And, if we look five years ahead, there is also a growing trend from consumers that the use of eco-friendly vehicles and a retailer’s ability to show home delivery carbon footprint will play a factor in their purchasing choices.

If a proportion of consumers are willing to compromise on convenience to ensure greater retailer sustainability, then the imperative to get efficiency and reliability right holds even greater emphasis, with a focus on making every mile as green as possible. 

Sustainable Home Delivery as Competitive Differentiator

While critical to an optimised customer experience, final mile delivery is a complex part of the fulfilment process – and is only becoming increasingly more so.

By implementing technology that creates efficiencies across the delivery lifecycle — from dynamic delivery appointment scheduling, delivery route planning, and continuous route optimisation to GPS-enabled real-time mobile tracking, mobile proof-of-delivery, and delivery status notifications — retailers can give consumers more delivery choices, improve delivery reliability, keep customers informed of delivery status, and – crucially – provide different consumers with parameters for home delivery that suit their specific priorities.

Indeed, gearing up with the right technology tools can help e-commerce retailers keep their delivery promise, whatever that may be — a critical factor in building customer loyalty and driving repeat business — by ensuring customers get the products they want, delivered to their door, at the expected time.

Moreover, these tools can also lay the foundation for agile and dynamic home delivery options that meet consumers’ growing needs for both convenience and sustainability.

The importance of CX in the retail industry

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There’s no denying that the past year has had a huge impact on the retail industry, from supply chains to customer service. With stores closing their doors and e-commerce booming, retailers had to adapt their processes rapidly to meet new customer behaviours and needs.

Retail technology saw a boom, click & collect became more popular than ever, and customer service operations moved to more diverse channels as digital-savvy consumers looked for more ways to resolve their queries.

Despite all these changes 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services (Source: Salesforce). Consumers expect short wait times, quick solutions, and personalised interactions at every touchpoint.

The demand for omnichannel retail solutions and customer care has never been higher due to consumers’ increasing reliance on technology and the rise of new and distinct types of problems as the retail sector changed as a result of the pandemic. Retail contact centres have been introducing more channels than ever before to connect with customers to inform them about changes to services, orders, and reopenings, from chatbots and videochat to Twitter and Instagram.

Customers now expect their favourite retail brands to have multiple options of communication. Many consumers shopping for retail products start their journey online, and usually with a search. Many paths to purchase in retail also involve a consumer calling a store location or contact center.

To gain a unified consumer view, businesses must connect all of their channels. The opportunity cost of not being omnichannel is 10% in lost revenue (Source: VendHQ). A failure to provide high-quality omnichannel experiences directly impacts ROI and 38% of consumers will stop doing business with a company if they have a bad call experience (source: Invoca). Providing great call experiences is what Woven do best.

Visit to see how we are helping the retail industry.

Blended human and digital customer service tops investment focus for retailers

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Capabilities that bridge the online/offline customer experience gap prove a key investment focus for UK retailers over the next two years.

That’s according to the latest report from iAdvize, which polled 50 senior UK retailers in its ‘Blueprint For The New Digital Store Associate In The Age Of Conversational Commerce’ report.

It says that with 40% of UK shoppers now wanting human interaction in the online buying process, customer service functionality that blends human and digital touchpoints made up four out of the top five investment priorities for retailers over the next 24 months.  

Almost two thirds (64%) of UK retailers plan to invest in live messaging capabilities with customer service agents – either through online messaging or chat functions.

In app customer service agents (37%), social media influencers (21%) and online brand ambassadors (19%) also featured in the top five investment focuses when it came to customer service. 

In the same way retailers are looking to deliver human interaction in online encounters, retail businesses also plan to use in-store staff to answer digital queries. Over half (58%) of the retail leaders polled as part of the research wanted to digitise store staff by giving them online capabilities, while two-fifths (40%) said they plan to use store associates to engage in digital conversational commerce when store footfall is light. 

Stuart Gordon, UK Country Manager at iAdvize, said: “Retailers realise that store staff need access to quality customer, stock and order insights in general, but even more so if they are going to make a valuable contribution to the online customer journey, successfully closing the customer experience gap.

“There is a growing realisation within bricks-and-mortar retail that physical stores need to focus on what pureplays cannot do, rather than trying to compete on their home territory of price, friction-free convenience and ease of delivery.  And that means unlocking human capital to offer quality insight, delivered with ‘emotional’ human interaction.”

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