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Two out of three shoppers walk into a store open to discoveries and hoping for inspiration. Customers look for social experiences where they can discover new products, feel them, imagine them in their homes — and purchase and take them home immediately. After all, seeing is believing — and 52% of customers appreciate connecting tangibly with products they plan to buy.

Retailers, meanwhile, are seeking innovative ways to create the right atmosphere that puts customers at ease, encourages exploration and delivers an exceptional experience. What’s driving the retail industry’s rapid evolution? Technological advancements and evolving consumer expectations. Together, these two ingredients enable stores to present their inventory in ways that appeal to all the senses.

This white paper explores key predictions for 2024, specifically focusing on trends including next-level on-premise personalization, the symbiotic relationship between humans and artificial intelligence (AI), and the need for harmony among all systems.

Next-level, on-premise personalization

AI-driven technologies are already expanding the boundaries of immersive and interactive shopping experiences. Customers appreciate the effort, with 52% agreeing that their satisfaction increases as digital experiences with brands grow more personalized. Over three-quarters (77%) of consumers prefer brands offering personalized data-based experiences, and 75% prefer it when retailers use personal data to enhance their shopping experiences.

Retailers are strategizing ways to elevate and personalize the shopping experience and journey with the following technology.

Machine Learning (ML) algorithms

Recommendation engines use behavior and product information to offer personalized recommendations, helping connect shoppers to products and services they’ll likely enjoy. Virtual try-ons with computer vision algorithms power virtual fitting rooms and make-up try-on tools, enabling customers to experiment with items before purchasing.

Computer vision uses gesture controls to power interactive displays, mirrors and screens, offering virtual product visualizations to create an immersive, in-store experience. This technology is very popular with shoppers, with 75% saying they would use interactive screens to discover a retailer’s online product portfolio and 69% saying they love the “wow” factor they get from seeing a large video wall in-store.

Natural language processing (NLP) helps chatbots engage in conversational commerce, answering product questions, suggesting purchases and mimicking human sales assistants. ML algorithms deliver personalization by analyzing shopper data and behavior to create a tailored shopping experience with customized navigation, product suggestions, promotions and search results.

Predictive analytics leverages algorithms to study sales data and external factors to forecast demand, helping stores optimize inventory and provide targeted promotions. Dynamic pricing also uses algorithms to adjust prices based on competing options, inventory and consumer demand; retailers use flexible pricing to strike the perfect balance.

IoT sensors

Perhaps a better question about IoT sensors is not where you can find them but where they aren’t used. This technology has found a home in many aspects of retail.

Interactive windows and displays create an immersive external experience to pique customers’ curiosity and draw them into the store. Once inside, more technology helps retailers record shopper behavior. Pressure-sensitive floors can track in-store paths to analyze traffic patterns and engagement. Motion sensors on store shelves track customer behavior like products touched or time spent looking at a particular area. Digital signage equipped with proximity sensors can detect approaching customers and change the current content or offers on display.

Bluetooth beacons placed throughout stores connect with smartphones to offer location-based promotions. RFID tags on items enable sensor-driven interactivity and provide data on purchasing behavior. Interactive displays and shelves detect weight changes when an item is picked up or moved, triggering related visuals, product information or recommendations. This technology is popular among 75% of shoppers, with interactive kiosks in grocery stores encouraging nearly a quarter of shoppers to consider purchasing.

Smart mirrors with built-in sensors allow patrons to try on outfits virtually and get feedback on different styles and custom recommendations. Smart fitting rooms equipped with sensors also provide feedback on fit or style and allow shoppers to request different styles. Our study found that interactive changing rooms encourage 43% of shoppers to revisit a fashion store and prompt 30% of department store customers to consider buying.

Beacon technology

Think of beacons as lighthouses that continually transmit signals for other devices to pick up and see. But rather than a light beam, beacons broadcast radio signals (comprised of numbers and letters) at consistent, short intervals.

Retailers can place beacons around the store to detect when customers approach certain products and departments and send relevant offers and information to their smartphones to drive targeted engagement. Over 70% of customers want real-time recommendations as they browse the store.

Retail apps using beacon technology can provide on-premise navigation, pointing shoppers toward items they want — and other popular products — to make in-store shopping more immersive. Almost 75% of shoppers want to use (or already rely on) their mobile devices to help navigate stores.

Retailers can even put beacons on apparel, enabling consumers to build a virtual fitting room on their smartphone to try on items digitally. For streamlined, frictionless transactions, beacons enable secure mobile payments from smartphones without a customer needing to use the checkout line.

Some retailers gamify the shopping experience by allowing customers to ‘check in’ to departments via beacons to earn points or collect rewards, incentivizing engagement. Beacons can also trigger nearby digital displays or mirrors to show product information and recommendations when someone picks up an item from a shelf. Finally, beacons collect interactions and location data, providing retailers with valuable insights into customer behavior and enabling teams to offer more customized experiences.

These technologies enable marketing teams to tailor product recommendations, curate and deliver tailor-made shopping experiences, and obtain real-time information and insights to make adjustments that enhance customer satisfaction and maintain brand loyalty. The data backs up evolving customer expectations:


60% of customers say personalization influences shopping decisions (Mood).


71% of customers want businesses to provide personalized experiences; 76% grow frustrated when the delivery falls short of expectations (McKinsey).


86% of customers indicate personalization influences purchasing decisions (Infosys).


56% of online shoppers gravitate toward companies offering personalized recommendations (Invesp).

Retailers can increase revenue by over 25% when they offer individualized product recommendations. According to research from Barilliance, product recommendations account for as much as 31% of ecommerce revenue. Shoppers engaging with recommended products generate 70% higher conversion rates than those who don’t.

AI needs human involvement to succeed

Over three-quarters (77%) of customers prefer to speak and interact with human representatives versus AI-powered chatbots when shopping online. But customers also prefer a mix of self-service and assisted shopping choices, with 28% of consumers more likely to patronize non-grocer merchants offering self-checkout. Another 20% expressed an interest in completely self-service stores.

So, while AI is increasingly critical in advancing personalization, the human touch remains essential. Humans can perceive subtle emotional cues and respond with compassion, empathy and situational understanding AI cannot replicate. Human touch builds connections. A warm human touch conveys brand values more effectively because customers are drawn to connect with the people behind the brands — not the tech itself.

Customers also need to trust the recommendations and personalization retailers share. A friendly human touch showing genuine care cultivates trust more than an algorithm. Humans also think creatively outside the box in ways that often defy pure data-based logic, allowing for innovation and the ability to surprise and delight shoppers with personalized recommendations they might not expect.

Retailers must seamlessly blend tech and human expertise to create responsive, personal experiences, which can sometimes pose a challenge. But here are some suggestions:

Use AI to analyze data and identify customer preferences, trends and intent. Let human experts curate final recommendations informed by the AI insights.
Employ virtual shopping assistants powered by conversational AI to engage customers. Have human agents seamlessly take over for complex or sensitive customer issues.
Set up omnichannel concierge services staffed by experts who can access customer data and journey history to provide personalized advice and recommendations.
Enable store associates with mobile tech to look up loyalty program data, order history and product recommendations for customers in-store.
Implement AI-powered chatbots for swift customer service at scale. Empower human agents to step in for dissatisfied chatbot users and rescue the experience.
Offer customers smart mirrors with tailored outfit suggestion capabilities, but have fashion specialists on hand to provide an expert human perspective.
Apply machine learning to monitor inventory and product demand. Allow buyers to make the final call on purchases and allocation based on their category expertise.
Send AI-optimized promotions and offers through marketing automation. Design campaigns based on human insights into customer motivations.

Creating harmony among systems

Data is the key to personalization. According to McKinsey research, organizations embracing a data-driven approach are 23 times more successful in new customer acquisition, six times more likely to retain customers and 19 times more likely to be profitable. Data-driven organizations aren’t just data-rich; they’re organized — a critical benefit of adopting a centralized content management platform.

Disparate, decentralized systems hamper collaboration because assets are scattered throughout an organization. If different asset versions are floating around, keeping track of the source of truth becomes difficult. Centralized content management systems (CMS) unify operations, remove silos and streamline digital content management. These platforms facilitate a more accessible aggregation of engagement data across channels to optimize content performance, too.

These platforms also offer other benefits, ensuring consistent messaging and tone across all channels and customer touchpoints to strengthen brand identity. A centralized platform facilitates seamless team collaboration, streamlining content creation and review processes. It allows for flexible publishing and updating across multiple channels, including mobile, print, social web, etc., from one CMS.

Delivering omnichannel customer experiences across devices and channels feels more cohesive when content is sourced from one platform. These platforms also include automation capabilities, including workflow automation, scheduling and personalized communication at scale. Marketers and staff benefit from accessibility; they can securely share and update content through role-based permissions granted in the CMS.

The operations budget benefits, too, with lower software, hardware and support costs since harmonizing and centralizing systems onto one platform eliminates the need for separate content repositories. This strategy also prepares companies for future readiness because a robust CMS simplifies the process of scaling content and adding new devices as the company grows.

Just over one-third (38%) of companies use only one CMS, but 48% use two to three CMS systems and 14% use four CMSs — or more. While monolithic CMS remains prominent, the newer headless CMS are growing in popularity because they’re more compatible with newer technology, more user-friendly, scalable, and secure. Regardless of the type of CMS companies use, transitioning to one CMS creates harmony among all systems and enables retailers to gain data-driven insights for delivering more effective personalized customer interactions.

Succeeding in 2024 — and beyond

Retailers embracing next-level personalization, AI and a harmonious tech stack position themselves to grow in 2024 and beyond. By providing immersive shopping experiences, tailoring product recommendations, delivering personalized customer experience and setting their employees up for success, retailers can build customer loyalty and drive sales growth.

To learn more about preparing for 2024, contact us today.


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