Removing friction from retail: four technologies retailers should consider

Removing friction from retail: four technologies retailers should consider

AI and machine learning are among the top tech trends for retailers to consider as they work to enhance and improve customers’ experiences with their brands, according to NCR Retail Solutions.

In an exclusive comment piece for RTIH, Tom Chittenden, Vice President and General Manager, NCR Retail Solutions, says:Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the biggest trends in the entire technology industry right now. Among the many facets and benefits it offers, machine learning is arguably the most exciting as it relates to customer service. By learning from and building upon previous data, AI enables a smarter and more efficient service to customers.”

“For example, this technology can answer customer FAQs, freeing up time for employees to deal with more complex enquiries, and resulting in much less wait time for anyone with questions or issues. AI technology throughout different points of the customer journey helps to create a connected experience across each touchpoint – from the first advert to the self-checkout. But AI does not stop when the transaction is complete. It can help brands stay in touch with their customers once they have made their purchase and fosters a continuous relationship, by offering individualised support for products, recommendations on future purchases, and more.”

Chittenden also flags up chatbots, noting that the days of stock responses and blatantly robotic offerings are gone. Not only are they much more advanced in their capabilities, but they are also more human, with the added nuances of language and sentiment in their speech, he argues. 

“The use of data and AI allow chatbots to be much more efficient and productive, particularly with simple or common queries. With their ability to multi-task and quickly respond, chatbots can minimise the time customers spend waiting on hold. And if a query is more complex, chatbots can escalate and direct customers to the right person.”

With the rise of natural language processing and the proliferation of voice-activated devices like Siri and Alexa, it might not be long until chatbot interactions become verbal conversations. This enables retailers to have more meaningful, two-way communication with customers in a very natural way, wherever they may be.

“While it’s true that retail and technology are forever intertwined, it’s also important to remember to keep the evaluation and decision-making process when it comes to new technologies customer centric. Understanding the best ways to leverage these types of technologies, and how they best align with business objectives, is critical to making the right investments that will help reduce friction across the entire shopping journey and foster lasting customer relationships,” Chittenden concludes.

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