Retail in Asia


Omnichannel retail in 2022: AI and Hyper-Personalisation will become table stakes


With the acceleration of digitisation over the last two years, our entire world is now connected by uninterrupted, hyper-personalised experiences. For most, the digital tapestry of our lives is taken for granted: hopping onto public transport while scrolling through the latest music-streaming service for commuter tunes, checking out the latest lunch deals on food delivery apps, and winding down in the evening while browsing binge-worthy favourites on video-streaming platforms.

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Our lives are peppered with frictionless, customised moments and experiences. This has led to changing expectations and communication processes between customers and retailers. It has also jump-started the fast growing demand for personalised engagement.

In a way, as retail continues with cautious recovery into 2022, the state of digitisation today necessitates a leapfrog of technology adoption for many.

Here are three main to-dos that can help retailers better navigate these new expectations.

Digitalise user engagement

The global transformational shift is not limited to business operations or consumer demands. In fact, everything is now connected – from the platforms used, to the brand experience and how data is analysed.

Right now, customers use any platform that is convenient for them. That means, it is up to retail leaders to establish how the business can integrate that non-linear footprint into a seamless, omnichannel experience. The primary outcome must be to enable customer data and records to be mapped across all communication channels. Otherwise, retailers not only lose out on harnessing potentially powerful data, but they also risk the loss of revenue and reduction of customer lifetime value.

Personalised empathy

Previously, retailers could perhaps get by with decision-making based on corporate bias and instinct.

Today, knowledge about what customers want, how they choose to interact and what pain points they experience are essential in this era of economic uncertainty, heightened emotions and unpredictable inquiry volumes. Right now, customer-facing communications must be relevant and constantly in tune with their needs while incorporating context and suitability.

By integrating empathy into their marketing efforts, retailers can connect better with their customers across different platforms, at a large scale and in a fully automated and data-driven manner.

With AI and automation, businesses can make better-informed decisions based on data collection, analysis and other factors, like audience or economic trends that impact marketing efforts. Insights harnessed from AI, automation and data will help businesses meet customer preferences – directly addressing the growing need for a more personalised experience.

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Expand hyper-personalisation

The world is now at the peak of personalised experiences, a time when a fridge is smart enough to trigger grocery purchases when staples run out. If retailers continue to just rely on generic emails and SMS-es to their database, they will drown in the mass of digital noise or, worse, be marked as a spammer.

The ubiquity of the chatbot in omnichannel experiences is a prime example of how retailers have rushed to “digitalise” lives and reduce reliance on human effort. However, how ready is that shiny new chatbot to provide a personalised experience?

Through our work with our clients, we have observed that customers will not talk to a chatbot. If a chatbot is engaged, users just want to get to the end point swiftly instead of clicking through a maze of options and automated conversations.

Retailers who are looking to innovate their capabilities, must look at the next chapter, raising their digitised customer engagement standards to embrace advanced humanised technology. The next step of personalisation will be when companies find a way to make their customers feel as if they are not talking to machines, even if they are.

Look ahead to not get left behind

As consumers move more daily routine activities online, there is no doubt that they are spending more of their lives on websites, mobile apps or on-demand services. As such, the journey does not end after a purchase – that is just the beginning of the journey. Right after, it is about building a relationship with the customer, so the bond sticks for life and ensures they come back as strong and loyal patrons.

While customer demands will continue to grow at an accelerated rate and can seem daunting, they can be addressed just as quickly when businesses engage and work with the right ecosystem partners.

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Retailers in the APAC region may find themselves focusing on automation and digitalisation now. However, in 2022, they will have to quickly pivot to humanisation, deep personalisation and applying insightful empathy to ensure they can meet ever-evolving customer expectations and supercharge modern customer engagements.

By Vivien Ang, Regional Manager APAC, Infobip

Disclaimer: The views and opinion expressed in the article belong solely to the original author and do not represent the views, opinions and position of Retail in Asia.