January 16, 2018
Mike Cassidy
Mike is lead storyteller at Signifyd. A former journalist, he covers e-commerce and the way automation is changing digital commerce. He's a retail geek. And, as a White Sox fan, he's also resilient.

NRF Takeaway: AI Plus Humans Can Improve the Customer Experience

The good news for retailers at the dawn of 2018 is that there is a nearly endless variety of technologies to help them compete in a time of unprecedented competition.

The bad news? That’s not the whole answer. 

Or maybe that’s the good news. Humans are still integral to providing the kind of customer experience that consumers expect from the time they browse a retailer’s website until well after their package is delivered. 

I spoke to Fluent Commerce Graham Jackson this week about the mix of human and machine in retail at NRF’s Big Show.

In the video below, Jackson, whose company helps retailers wrangle the vast amounts of data they collect, talks about the role of technology. And he offers a prescription for helping build the kind of experience that customers have come to expect.

 As retailers’ perspective moves away from “omnichannel” to the notion that shopping is shopping and those who think in terms of channels are doomed, the way they think about deploying technology is evolving, too.

Among other things, there is an increased focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning and innovations that can ensure that attention to the customer experience doesn’t break down once a consumer clicks the buy button. 

Just as artificial intelligence is powerful tool in acquiring customers through personalization, better site and organic search, it can be unleashed to make sure the customer continues to be the center of attention through order management, fraud management, picking and packing, delivery, customer support and even returns. 

Technology helps build the customer experience after the buy button

While it’s true that consumers don’t see much of what happens once they’ve clicked the buy button, it’s clearly crucial, according to consumer surveys that show how much they value on-time delivery and clear and flexible return policies

Like nearly everything in ecommerce, consumer expectations are being set by Amazon. While competitors don’t need to match the Seattle behemoth in every area (in fact, differentiation is an effective strategy) the basics of keeping customers happy is essential to earning a customer for life. 

Luckily, as technology races forward, achieving that goal is more possible than ever.

Contact Mike Cassidy at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

 
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