It’s easy to get caught up in futuristic hype at the beginning of a new year as everyone predicts what is to come. We enjoy dreaming of autonomous car fleets bringing us to work while we binge watch Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, that won’t happen in time to cram in all seven seasons before the April series finale, so let’s focus on some realities that will start to change consumer behavior in 2019.
Brands are using technology to support the entire consumer journey,
no matter where you are.
Online influencing offline
Once a feature only expected in the ecommerce world, Artificial Intelligence is now bringing online shopping features in-store, revitalizing and enhancing consumers’ brick-and-mortar experience. An example? Ralph Lauren, who introduced connected fitting rooms at their flagship Manhattan store. Rooms are equipped with smart mirrors that recognize products you have brought in, show available sizes and colors and recommend other products you may be interested in. Selecting a new size or product will alert an employee to bring it right to you, catering to the on-demand services most consumers are used to.
Personalizing the in-store shopping experience
Kroger partnered with Microsoft to develop “digital shelves,” bringing the ease of online shopping into the store. The new system, coined “pick to light,” works in conjunction with the Kroger app, which helps shoppers keep track of their shopping list. How it works? As customers walk the aisles, digital displays show a custom icon indicating products on their shopping list. The system can display ads or custom messages and can also identify your age and gender to further personalize the experience.
Bringing the showroom home
Virtual Reality (VR) gets a lot of headlines, but it’s Augmented Reality (AR) that is already driving consumer behavior change. Brands like Wayfair and IKEA are using AR to allow shoppers to imagine and place furniture in their actual space, essentially bringing the showroom into your actual home. How it works? While shopping in the Wayfair app, users can choose to “View in Room 3D” which will activate their phone’s camera, allowing them to scan the area where they would like to place the furniture, and then place the object in the actual space. Not only does a technology like this start to reduce some of the hesitation around purchasing large items online, it’s a great way for consumers to ensure a bulky furniture piece will fit within their room before ordering it.
Technology will continue to allow retailers to bridge the gap between online and in-store experiences, and we’ll continue to see it evolve more rapidly in 2019. This blurring of lines means thoughtful consideration of the customer experience—and acknowledging how our digital world is changing consumer behavior—is a must.
What are you thinking about in 2019? We’d love to know, so feel free to shoot us a note.