Retail in Asia


Singapore shoppers want better personalisation, more transparency with AI while shopping

Concerns are increasing over the increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) when shopping, with the majority of Singaporeans saying that it is important to know if they are communicating with AI or a human while online shopping, among other shopping preferences, according to a report.

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According to Salesforce’s ‘State of the Connected Customer’, which studied the preferences of Singapore shoppers in 2023, both economic and technological shifts are changing customer priorities, behaviours, and expectations in the Asian nation, and beyond. As a result, the pressure is on for brands to meet these changing perspectives to maintain consumer satisfaction and loyalty.

From the survey, 53 percent of customers in Singapore said they expect companies to understand their needs as they change, while 85 percent of customers in Singapore expect faster service and 78 percent expect better personalisation as technology advances.

Some, 78 percent of customers in Singapore expect consistent interactions across departments and 76 percent said they expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company.

Moreover, the shopping experience remains crucial to bargain seeking for Singaporeans, with brands having ample opportunity to compete on more than price, according to the report.

Some 62% of consumers in Singapore switched brands at least once in the past year, with the search for better deals being the leading reason for switching brands. Coming in the second, the demand for product quality follows closely behind.

Approximately 85 percent of consumers in Singapore say the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services. However, many companies fall short, according to the survey. Some 66 percent of customers in Singapore say most companies treat them as a number rather than a unique individual.

The report also noted that customers have a variety of feelings about the rise of generative AI. However, ‘curiosity’ is among the top three, joined by ‘excitement’ and ‘hope’.

Finally, the report stated that trust is paramount to s as AI expands. Customers expect transparency as companies ramp up their use of AI.

Some 66 percent of customers in Singapore say advances in AI make it more important that companies are trustworthy.  At the same time, 79 percent of customers in Singapore are concerned about companies using AI unethically. Furthermore, 87 percent of customers in Singapore say it’s important to know whether they’re communicating with AI or a human, and some 64 percent of customers in Singapore say greater visibility into AI’s use would deepen their trust.

“Rising customer expectations means companies can’t afford to stand still when it comes to customer service. Technologies such as AI hold immense potential for businesses to keep up with changing needs and preferences. But this also raises pressing concerns around the ethics of AI,” said Sujith Abraham, senior vice president and General Manager for Salesforce ASEAN.

“The trust imperative is now more important than ever. Companies that will succeed are those that demonstrate they are approaching the technology thoughtfully, grounded in transparency and security, in order to win the trust of their customers.”

The Salesforce report surveyed 650 consumers and 150 business buyers from Singapore, to discover how AI, digital transformation, and macroeconomics are changing customer engagement.