As shopping becomes more ubiquitous through online, mobile and brick-and-mortar channels, retailers need to become more trusted advisors to their customers and more capable of providing them with personalized, immersive shopping experiences, according to new research from Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
The research found that 63% of consumers surveyed are interested in personalized recommendations, and that the majority of them are willing to share their data in exchange benefits such as automatic credits for coupons and loyalty points (64% of those surveyed), access to exclusive deals (60%), the ability to gain points and rewards (56%) or special offers for items that interest them (53%).
The report is part of RILA's “September is for (R)Tech” showcase, a month-long effort by the association to highlight retail technology initiatives and research focused on how consumer trends are shaping the future of shopping.
It's no surprise that consumers are interested in receiving personalized recommendations, as many retailers and e-commerce marketplaces already offer at least a degree of such treatment. However, the results of this survey suggest that their interest in receiving personalized treatment is growing and runs deeper than just receiving straightforward product recommendations. For retailers, it may be a whole new kind of consumer.
For example, the metric of 63% of consumers being interested in personalized recommendations is up from 57% two years ago, according to the report. Also, beyond recommendations, those surveyed indicated they were interested in other forms of personalized treatment. About 61% said they want to get personalized design ideas from expert service providers (up from 46% in 2016), while 54% said they are interested in personalized recipe ideas (up from 44% in 2016) and 49% said they want personalized service suggestions (up from 44% in 2016.)
All of these insights could put more pressure on retailers to not just invest in personalization technologies, but also seek to build stronger, more personal relationships with their customers that will, in turn, enable them to more fully curate the shopping experience on a shopper-by-shopper basis.
The retailers who participated in this surveyed seem to understand that consumers' expectations are evolving. For instance, 94 of the 100 retail executives surveyed said they believe the evolution toward ubiquitous shopping is significantly transforming the industry, and 93 said they foresee their own business being disrupted in the same way.
Among other data from the survey, 84 of the 100 retail executives said image commerce — for example, capabilities that allow consumers to take a photo of an item with a mobile device and then use the image to initiate a visual search — is important to their future success. Their thinking is on target with the finding that 56% of consumers surveyed said they would be interested in such capabilities.
Also, use of immersive technology such as augmented reality as part of the shopping experience is starting to capture the interest of more consumers, with 56% of home décor and electronics consumers saying they have used such immersive technology. This might be an area where more retailers need to catch up with consumer attitudes, as 63 of the 100 retail execs said the technology is very important, but only 37 of them said they are investing heavily in it.
It's becoming clear that shoppers want to have richer, more personalized shopping experiences, whether in-person, online or via mobile. It's also clear from this survey that they are willing to provide the personal data necessary to drive those experiences — at least in exchange for things like loyalty points or exclusive deals. It may be time for retailers to sign off on that trade.