A new survey of 150 UK shoppers and 75 retail decision-makers reveals that the retail industry is again on the verge of major disruption. After just eight months in the public domain, generative AI is already making an impact.
These findings are part of a global survey of 2,400 shoppers and 1,125 retail decision-makers in 18 countries.As UK consumers begin to experiment with generative AI, a significant share are keen to explore the technology’s usefulness for shopping.
35% say they’re interested in using generative AI for outfit and wardrobe inspiration and 43% say the same for researching appliances and electronics.
12% say they’ve already used generative AI for shopping inspiration.In response, retailers are busy evaluating how generative AI will play a role in customer engagement and operations, if not actively implementing it in their workflows. Popular use cases include generating marketing assets and personalised customer service responses.
93% of UK retailers say they’re investing more than ever in AI.
Digital’s influence accelerates
E-commerce sites and apps are among the most popular digital shopping channels.
53% of UK shoppers say they’ve made a purchase on social media — a nearly nine-fold increase from the 6% who said so in 2021.
Given the broader shift towards e-commerce, an estimated 60% of UK transactions will take place over digital channels in 2023, a figure expected to rise to 64% in 2025.
The role of the physical store continues to evolve
Retailers and consumers are also infusing digital commerce into the brick-and-mortar experience, including equipping store staff with mobile devices. An estimated 27% of UK shop assistants use mobile devices as part of their jobs today, a figure expected to rise by 32% by 2026.Assistants use their devices for a variety of tasks, with loyalty programmme sign ups, customer service, and point-of-sale activities being the most common. Today’s UK shoppers still seek an in-store experience, mainly to touch and feel merchandise, make instant purchases and enjoy the overall experience.
But now stores are taking on a dual purpose as they are increasingly being used as ecommerce fulfilment centres. 53% of UK retailers offer buy-online-pickup-in-store service, and 57% offer ship-from-store.
The need to expand beyond traditional loyalty programmes
Earning and maintaining customer loyalty is becoming an increasingly difficult and important task.UK shoppers belong to an estimated average of 3.8 loyalty programmes — unchanged since 2021. This is higher than the global average of 3.4 programs, which is down from 4.3 in 2021.
UK retailers are increasingly leaning into loyalty programmes to retain their most loyal customers and increase their engagement with the brand. Today 85% of UK retailers offer such programmes, which is higher than the global average of 75%.Showcasing differentiated perks and experiences and expanding beyond tried-and-true points programmes can increase loyalty.
Regardless of which types of loyalty programmes retailers pursue, they must contend with a list of challenges that prevent them from realising return on investment, particularly insufficient customer insights and a lack of agility in response to changing marketing opportunities and competition.“Generative AI is a game changer for UK retailers and shoppers are eager to use this technology to experience greater engagement on and offline from brands,” said Navkinder Sanghera, Head of UK Retail and Consumer Goods, Salesforce.
“Our research highlights the opportunities to streamline customer journeys and foster deeper relationships through personalisation, and the transformative impact this can have on delivering more efficient ways of doing business and driving loyalty.”
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