Faced with increasing competition and declining loyalty, traditional CPG retailers and suppliers must rethink how they deliver compelling and highly personalized customer experiences across all channels to retain customers in this fast-changing environment. A new approach and strategy is imperative for survival as almost weekly disruptors collide with our business models.
Editor’s note: On the day following the publishing of this blog, Amazon announced its intentions to acquire Whole Foods, making the content of this blog even more salient.
A new reality for business
Enter virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). Next-gen technologies spawned outside the retail world that have the imminent potential to help retailers and suppliers generate higher loyalty and improve the integrated in-store, online, and mobile customer experience to drive revenue and category growth. VR enables planners to visualize category management concepts through the eyes of their shoppers, accelerating the testing of responses to product packaging, new displays, and overall store and category layouts. It can also enable a mobile user experience for customers and shoppers to feel like shopping at your favorite store with immersive augmented reality views of the store.
Let me share a fantastic example of VR technology in action
Premier Foods, a British food supplier, has made significant changes in how they plan for range assortment – a process from which they were progressively being excluded over time by their retail partners. Now, they’re seen as a strategic extension of their retail partners, have increased their sales and the sales of their retailers, and in the process, have strengthened their partner relationship. Read the blog.
Now turn your attention to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning, once the subjects of science fiction, are being used in very real and impactful ways. These game-changers for retailers and suppliers enable them to compete with Amazon on a more level playing field. Specifically, AI enables a wide variety of opportunities to effectively compete through:
- integrated customer experiences across instore, online, mobile and social channels
- highly personalized messages, ads and offers to customers based on behavior, time of day, location, channel, trip intent and other factors
- real-time insights, predictive alerts and recommendations and analytics for category managers, marketing managers, store managers and supplier managers
- conversational user interfaces like Amazon Echo and OK Google, but for retailer and supplier managers to get instant answers to their business questions
In all the scenarios above, AI provides better and faster prescriptive actions and decisions than people by themselves. I’m not saying that these new technologies in themselves are the answer. But when used in conjunction with traditional enterprise systems they do deliver better outcomes that will enable a completely different in-store experience, such as Amazon Go, but applied to current banners and formats.