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As the world navigates the post-pandemic landscape, customer expectations have evolved, demanding more seamless and personalized customer experiences. This shift is evident in the growing preference for buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) options are projected to jump from $73.16 in 2020 during the pandemic to more than $150 million by 2025. This trend highlights the need for brands to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, offering customers the flexibility to choose how they interact with the brand.
This evolution in customer experiences is less about the changing customer behavior, but is more to do with an explosion of data, as brands gather insights from customer interactions at different stages of the customer journey. Thus the challenge for all organizations will be to effectively manage this data and extract meaningful insights. AI will become increasingly crucial. The advent of large language models has paved the way for generative AI, but the true potential of AI lies in its prescriptive capabilities. With AI, brands can anticipate customer needs and proactively deliver personalized experiences that drive engagement and loyalty.
However, amidst this data-driven revolution, concerns over data security, privacy, and trust have also intensified. Customers are increasingly mindful of how their data is collected and used, demanding transparency and control over their personal information. Brands must therefore prioritize building secure and trustworthy data ecosystems that foster customer consent and trust, ensuring that personalized omnichannel experiences are delivered without compromising privacy.
Thus, the year 2024 is thus expected to be focussed on 3 key pillars- richer omnichannel experience for customers, Prescriptive customer experiences and Customer Trust.
The boundaries between digital and physical channels are rapidly dissolving, giving rise to an era of seamless omnichannel experiences. This transformation is driven by the evolving customer preferences, with over 60% of consumers engaging in online research and browsing before making a purchase, according to McKinsey. Google Search Trends further corroborate this shift, revealing a threefold increase in the number of users searching for nearby retail locations over the past two years. Additionally, a Shopify report highlights that 59% of customers conduct online product searches prior to in-store purchases.
In response to these emerging trends, brands are embracing advanced in-store connected devices to elevate the customer experience and inject a new level of personalization into brick-and-mortar environments. These devices will not only facilitate seamless buying experiences, such as “order online, pick up in store,” but also enable intricate in-store automation, including shopping guidance, virtual trials, and curated collections for review. These advancements represent just a glimpse of the multifaceted capabilities that connected devices usher into the retail space.
As brands harness technology to enhance customer engagement, the convergence of digital and physical retail experiences emerges as a strategic imperative in the pursuit of an enriched omnichannel experience. This convergence will be further propelled by key technological advancementsI in IoT, AR/VR, and Voice technologies(with all of them being impacted by AI in someway or the other)
In the age of omnichannel experiences, growth marketers must broaden their scope beyond mobile apps to encompass the thriving realm of hyper-connected devices, including wearables. These interlinked devices offer a wealth of data that provides profound insights into customer behavior, preferences, and purchasing habits. By harnessing data from hyper-connected devices, growth marketers can shape highly targeted campaigns, fine-tune product recommendations, and customize customer experiences across various touchpoints.
Hyper-connected devices go beyond physical stores, constantly generating data streams that can be utilized for omnichannel marketing strategies. Growth marketers need to embrace these devices as new customer interaction points and integrate their data into strategies to gain deeper customer insights, deliver personalized omnichannel experiences, and propel business growth.
The global market for hyper-connected devices is forecasted to reach $1.4 trillion by 2025, marking a 27% increase from 2022 (Source: Statista). Additionally, wearables and other hyper-connected gadgets are shaping evolving trends:
Wearables’ Influence: Wearable devices, including smartwatches and other personal gadgets, are becoming integral in the hyper-connected landscape. They contribute significantly to the data pool, offering insights into individual lifestyles, health patterns, and daily routines, redefining customer engagement strategies.
5G Revolution: With over 1.5 billion 5G connections expected by 2025, constituting more than 20% of all mobile connections (Source: GSMA), the landscape is evolving rapidly. This 5G influx is not merely about a few gadgets but marks the dawn of an era where an array of devices, from household appliances to industrial machinery, generate and utilize data at an unprecedented scale.
Data Inundation with 5G: Envision every sensor and smart device broadcasting real-time data. The promise of 5G entails an immense surge in data volumes, necessitating robust data pipelines and powerful analytics tools capable of handling petabytes of data, not just gigabytes.
Edge Computing’s Role: Despite 5G’s speed, edge computing will step in to process data closer to its origin, reducing latency and enabling swift, intelligent decision-making. This approach empowers real-time responses, such as immediate adjustments in traffic systems or instant reactions to equipment irregularities in factories.
Sustainability and IoT: The environmental impact of hyper-connectivity is under scrutiny, leading to an upsurge in “green” IoT solutions. Expect devices optimized for energy efficiency and resource conservation, managing renewable energy sources, and monitoring environmental pollution in real-time.
These trends paint a vivid picture of a data-centric future in the hyper-connected world, where data isn’t just a byproduct but the very essence of connectivity and innovation.
How are brands using hyper-connected devices:
The introduction of Meta’s Quest 3 this October starting at $499.99, marked a significant step towards offering an affordable and high-performance AR/VR device. However, the broader context indicates that AR and VR adoption is still relatively niche, with estimates projecting modest user numbers even in the coming years. with projections suggesting gradual growth, reaching over 100 million users globally by 2027. This raises questions about the immediate potential of mixed reality as the next computing platform; the current landscape suggests a slow evolution rather than an imminent revolution.
Going beyond segment based personalized experience towards creating one-to-one personalization leveraging data like purchase history, browsing behavior, and interactions to determine each customer’s specific preferences, interests, and values. Traditional purchase behavior of launching an app, viewing, adding to cart and checkout will get a new event getting added which is “Try the product” before adding to cart. This will become more real with Augmented Reality getting integrated with the mobile apps. How many users tried a product but did not add that product to cart will become a metric to track for customer engagement and retention platforms.
How are brands leveraging this: Lenskart’s pioneering Augmented Reality (AR) technology transforms the process from guesswork to meticulous precision. Virtually try on hundreds of frames, powered by AI algorithms that analyze your unique facial features. No more in-store trips or awkward selfies. Lenskart’s AR offers a curated, data-driven shopping experience, recommending frames that flawlessly complement your visage. Each selection transcends “maybes” and becomes a confidence-boosting certainty. Fast, personalized, and undeniably fun, Lenskart’s AR unlocks the future of eyewear shopping. Welcome to a world where perfect glasses are just a virtual tap away.
Voice technology is resurging, powered by AI advancements and consumer demand for natural interactions. It enables seamless omnichannel experiences, personalized customer data collection, enhanced customer support, and effective upselling and cross-selling. Brands that integrate voice technology into their omnichannel strategies can create more personalized, convenient, and engaging customer experiences.
Personalized Voice-Driven Engagement: AI is now capable of generating scalable, personalized voice interactions, tailoring each interaction to individual needs and preferences. Imagine engaging with brands through natural, conversational interactions, feeling like you’re having a one-on-one chat with a trusted friend. This level of personalization fosters deeper connections and creates a truly unique and engaging customer experience.
Improved Voice Recognition and Adoption: Advancements in AI models will lead to significantly improved voice recognition accuracy. This, in turn, will fuel the adoption of voice technology across various platforms and applications. The report by Pyments highlights the growing preference for voice technology, with 54% of consumers finding it faster and 22% of Gen Z willing to pay a premium for a natural and reliable voice assistant. This clearly indicates the potential of voice-driven engagement for brands seeking to connect with their customers on a deeper level.
With AI at the helm, voice is reclaiming its rightful place as a powerful tool for customer engagement. By harnessing the technology’s ability to personalize and streamline interactions, brands can create meaningful connections and unlock a new era of customer experience.
How are brands leveraging voice?
As we approach 2024, the landscape of customer engagement is poised for a transformative shift. Generative AI, once used solely to explore possibilities, is now evolving to embrace prescriptive capabilities. This marks a monumental leap forward, empowering AI to move beyond simply generating options and actively guide brands towards the most optimal course of action. This newfound power unlocks a vast array of opportunities for marketers, paving the way for a future where customer engagement is not only personalized, but also strategically optimized for maximum impact.
This exciting development manifests in two key areas: creative and content prescription, and customer engagement strategies. Let’s delve deeper and explore how AI’s prescriptive capabilities are poised to revolutionize the way brands connect with their customers.
How are brands leveraging AI to create?
How are brands leveraging AI for their customer engagement strategies?
Brands now have access to a treasure trove of insights into customer behavior, preferences, and needs, from across digital and physical touchpoints. But they also face a critical responsibility: navigating this ocean of information responsibly, ethically, and securely, thus ensuring a high focus on Customer Trust
Consumers, understandably, are increasingly wary of who has their data, how it’s being used, and whether it’s being protected. This has sparked a proactive shift in the industry towards privacy-first initiatives. Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies by 2024 is a landmark example, forcing brands to rethink their targeting strategies and embrace zero-party data – information customers willingly share.
Other key players are making similar strides:
These are not just isolated decisions; they’re part of a growing movement towards a more balanced digital ecosystem where trust and security are paramount.
In this context, brands must go beyond simply collecting data. They need to be data stewards, actively demonstrating transparency, control, and security throughout the entire data lifecycle. Only then can they navigate the data deluge and truly unlock the potential of information to build stronger relationships and deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Privacy concerns drive innovation: Data privacy will remain a hot topic, with regulations evolving and consumers demanding more control. But amidst the concerns, expect innovation to thrive. Blockchain and homomorphic encryption are just two examples of technologies that promise secure data sharing and analysis without compromising privacy. Imagine sharing data with partners for joint research projects without revealing sensitive customer information. Data collaboration without the fear of exposure.
The Rise of Zero-Party Data: With third-party cookies facing extinction in 2024, brands are scrambling to find new ways to understand and connect with their customers. Enter zero-party data – information willingly shared by consumers themselves, offering unparalleled value compared to the passive collection of first-party data. Think interactive quizzes, product reviews, and even social media interactions – a treasure trove of insights waiting to be explored, not just from clicks and purchases, but from the voices of your customers themselves! (Remember, that’s 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated every minute – a goldmine of potential waiting to be tapped!)
The Power of “Willingly Shared” Data: While first-party data reveals purchase history and website visits, zero-party data delves deeper, revealing preferences, aspirations, and even emotions. Imagine knowing what truly motivates customers, crafting marketing messages that resonate on a personal level, and delivering content that feels less like an ad and more like a conversation with a trusted friend.
Earning Zero-Party Data: But zero-party data, while potent, requires effort. Unlike the passive collection of first-party data, it demands interactive quizzes, engaging sign-up forms, and post-purchase surveys. It’s about earning, not assuming, customer trust. ( Home Depot, Ikea, and Canva empowering customers to curate their interactions, leading to a 30% reduction in opt-out rates – a testament to the power of transparency and control!)
AI: The Amplifier, Unlocking Hidden Gems: And that’s where AI becomes the ultimate amplifier. With smaller datasets, AI’s magic unleashes hidden patterns and generates actionable insights. Imagine crafting diverse, personalized quizzes at lightning speed or tailoring content to individual preferences based on a single review.
So, are you ready to ditch the cookies and embrace the power of “willingly shared” data? The time for zero-party conversations is now. It’s about building trust, unlocking emotions, and writing a new chapter in customer engagement, one personalized experience at a time.
Learn how to navigate the new paradigm?
As we stand at the precipice of 2024, the winds of change in B2C engagement have coalesced into a compelling narrative—one that heralds a future driven by four fundamental pillars: omnichannel experiences, democratized engagement, intelligent interactions, and data security.
The journey of AI, from a powerful collaborator to the bedrock of personalized experiences, has reshaped the digital landscape. Its partnership with human creativity and its specialized solutions have propelled brands into crafting hyper-personalized content and honing targeted strategies.
Simultaneously, the data explosion, fueled by the quest for seamless omnichannel experiences, has necessitated an ethical compass in navigating this vast landscape. Privacy and trust have emerged as non-negotiables, demanding transparent and respectful engagement with customers.
Looking ahead, the convergence of AI and data promises a revolution in customer engagement. AI’s prescriptive capabilities are set to transform how brands optimize creative content and orchestrate customer journeys, offering an unprecedented level of personalization and proactivity.
The revival of voice technology, now powered by AI, hints at a future where natural, personalized interactions redefine brand-customer relationships. The emergence of digital twins showcases the potential for predictive problem-solving and flawless customer experiences.
However, amidst this data-driven renaissance, challenges loom large. Balancing the deluge of data with responsibility, ensuring transparency, control, and security becomes imperative for brands navigating this terrain.
Embracing zero-party data, the absence of third-party cookies, unlocks deeper insights and emotions, steering customer connections beyond demographics. AI acts as the beacon, amplifying the significance of smaller datasets and guiding hyper-personalization rooted in genuine customer insights.
In this new era of zero-party conversations, building trust and unlocking emotions through willingly shared data marks the genesis of a customer engagement paradigm. It’s not merely about tailored experiences; it’s about forging authentic connections, anchored in transparency, control, and customer-centricity—a future where brands co-create value with customers, one interaction at a time.