Despite consumers’ eagerness to embrace cutting-edge tools, many brands fail to deliver the futuristic shopping experiences that technology promises. While today’s technology has the potential to revolutionize shopping with speed and precision, consumers still grapple with familiar challenges, from slow checkout processes to a lack of in-store assistance.

A global survey by IBM, spanning 26 countries and 20,000 participants, reveals a stark reality: a mere 9 percent of consumers express satisfaction with their in-store shopping experiences, a figure that slightly improves to 14 percent for online shopping (refer to “Study methodology,” page 25). Consumers recognize the untapped potential for improvement and expect brands to integrate technology seamlessly into their shopping journeys.

More than half of respondents express a desire for virtual assistants (55%), augmented or virtual reality (55%), and AI applications (59%) during their shopping experiences. A significant 23 percent of consumers identify as “tech enthusiasts,” actively seeking novel digital shopping experiences and serving as influential brand ambassadors, introducing friends and family to new products or brands at a rate of 70 percent in the last six months. Another 45 percent fall into the category of “tech experimentalists,” open to exploring digital shopping journeys and introducing products or brands to their network, highlighting the evolving landscape of consumer preferences and the untapped potential for brands to engage this tech-savvy audience.

In revolutionizing retail, we bridge the gap between consumer desires and brand delivery

Customer Satisfaction Gap: Only 9 percent express satisfaction with in-store shopping, and a mere 14 percent feel the same about online shopping experiences, highlighting a significant shortfall in meeting consumer expectations.

  • The power of connected data: Unified customer experiences hinge on the effective use of connected data, contingent upon brands building and maintaining consumer trust.
  • Relevance in communication: 52 percent of consumers desire information, advertisements, and offerings tailored to their specific interests, underscoring the importance of personalized communication.
  • Data control concerns: Despite the desire for personalized experiences, 40 percent of consumers express a need for more control over how companies utilize their data, emphasizing the delicate balance between personalization and privacy.
  • Sustainability and information: Consumers focused on sustainability require relevant information from companies, especially in critical areas like the use of safe ingredients and recycled materials, revealing a gap in the provided information.
  • Payment preferences: Shoppers seek payment flexibility, with 46% wanting to pay in installments and 69% expressing interest in using loyalty or rewards points, indicating a growing preference for diverse payment options.
  • AI’s role in streamlining: Most consumers are eager to embrace AI to streamline their shopping experience. Approximately four in five consumers express interest in using AI for product research, deal hunting, and issue resolution, highlighting its potential to provide contextual information for better, faster decisions.

Adapting to tech-savvy preferences and economic realities while navigating amidst the consumer landscape, welcome to a new era!

Engaging with influential customers demands a strategic embrace of technology to craft contextual and tailored experiences. However, the journey doesn’t end there. Recent shifts in brand loyalty highlight that consumers are increasingly prone to switching brands, with pricing emerging as the primary motivator. In the current economic climate marked by inflation and uncertainty, 62 percent of consumers identify price as a pivotal factor influencing their decision to switch stores or brands.

The impact of inflation on shopping behaviors is evident, with six out of 10 consumers acknowledging that it has shaped their approach to shopping. This figure only slightly decreases to 50 percent among the affluent demographic. Concurrently, an equal proportion of consumers emphasize their consistent pursuit of deals before finalizing a purchase.

The quest for the right price is so crucial that if a product isn’t available at the desired cost, a majority of consumers opt to reconsider their purchase rather than accept a higher price point. A resounding 77 percent of consumers across all income brackets confirm that they make tradeoffs when confronted with high prices, shedding light on the pervasive influence of economic considerations on consumer decision-making.

Image credits: FasterCapital

The forefront concern for consumers is the price, particularly as inflation constrains their ability to make purchases.

Image credits: IBM

Many are turning to AI and cutting-edge technologies as retailers and brands adapt to changing consumer expectations. These tools enable the delivery of higher-quality products and enhanced experiences at competitive prices and address the growing need for sustainability. Most consumers emphasize sustainability, expressing a willingness to pay more for products labeled as environmentally sustainable, showcasing an increased awareness compared to the figures from the previous years.

Despite the omnipresence of powerful mobile devices, consumers invest substantial time searching for the right products, sifting through reviews, comparing prices, and evaluating sustainability aspects. AI emerges as a transformative force, streamlining the shopping process by providing consumers with essential information for quicker, more informed decision-making.

When integrated thoughtfully into the overall shopping experience, technology becomes a catalyst for meeting consumer expectations of convenience and flexibility. In this era dominated by AI, brands and retailers must navigate three key imperatives—revolving around experiences, sustainability, and operations—to outpace competitors in the face of rapid change.

Sameer Danave, @samdan4u is a digital transformation expert who leverages AI-native architecture for operational efficiency, excelling in omnichannel strategies, conversational marketing, and content strategy as the Senior Director of Marketing at MSys Technologies.

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