Shop­ping up a vir­tual storm

AI is go­ing to change the way we shop for­ever

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Contents -

BY 2020, THREE OUT OF EV­ERY FOUR OF YOUR CON­SUMER IN­TER­AC­TIONS will not be face to face with another hu­man. In­stead, the ma­jor­ity of your shop­ping will be self-ser­vice – us­ing chat­bots and VR – ac­cord­ing to new re­search by com­puter tech­nol­ogy com­pany Or­a­cle.

The Or­a­cle re­port, “Can vir­tual ex­pe­ri­ences re­place re­al­ity?” polled 800 se­nior mar­ket­ing and sales pro­fes­sion­als in France, the Nether­lands, South Africa and the UK. Un­der­taken with Cole­man Parkes Re­search, it tar­geted the ar­eas of man­u­fac­tur­ing and high-tech, on­line re­tail and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

It re­vealed how the use of emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies is set to surge by 2020. Seventy-seven per­cent of brands expect to pro­vide cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences through vir­tual re­al­ity in the next four years, while 79 per­cent expect to serve cus­tomers through chat­bots.

It comes as no sur­prise, given our in­creas­ing pref­er­ence for on­line and mo­bile com­merce. In re­sponse, com­pa­nies are mov­ing fur­ther away from re­al­life, hu­man in­ter­ac­tions into an age of ad­vanced self-ser­vice. How­ever, the re­port also shows that many brands still strug­gle to man­age one of the most fun­da­men­tal chan­nels for dig­i­tal con­sumer ac­tiv­ity – so­cial me­dia – in­di­cat­ing that they may be try­ing to run be­fore they can walk by in­vest­ing in even more ad­vanced data-cen­tric tech­nolo­gies.

Shop­per, serve thy­self In South Africa, by 2020, 77 per cent of brands expect to be pro­vid­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences through vir­tual re­al­ity and 79 per cent will be serv­ing cus­tomers through chat­bots (30 per­cent have done so al­ready). A sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of sales and mar­ket­ing lead­ers ad­mit that dig­i­tal and mo­bile tech­nolo­gies have caused the great­est change to how their cus­tomers and prospects in­ter­act with them. Most notably, 40 per­cent of brands agree that peo­ple now do more re­search on their own be­fore mak­ing a pur­chase. In fact, more than one in three brands say cus­tomers and prospects pre­fer to com­plete a pur­chase or re­solve ser­vice is­sues with­out speak­ing to a hu­man as­so­ciate, if pos­si­ble. Even more say cus­tomers want to ini­ti­ate sales dis­cus­sions them­selves rather than be ap­proached by a brand, re­gard­less of how

“More than one in three brands say cus­tomers and prospects pre­fer to com­plete a pur­chase or re­solve ser­vice is­sues with­out speak­ing to a hu­man as­so­ciate, if pos­si­ble”

Five years ago, Adidas pro­posed its ver­sion of the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence of the fu­ture with its vir­tual footwear wall.

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