Why human-centered technology will define the future of retail

Article by regional manager Infosys APAC – consumer goods, distribution and logistics, Andal Alwan.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of online shopping faster than expected. Locally, more Australians than ever have turned to online shopping during the pandemic, with 9 million households buying online in 2020, representing a 57% year-over-year growth. This included 1.36 million households who bought online for the first time.

However, there is still a place for traditional shopping experiences. A recent survey of Australian consumers found that only 12% preferred to shop for furniture and household items online rather than in-store, while just 8% preferred to shop for DIY and garden products online.

In addition, a 2019 global report showed that before the pandemic, 71% of all shoppers spent $ 50 or more when shopping in-store, compared to just 54% of online shoppers, posing an ongoing challenge for retailers moving more and more online.

Nothing replaces the real thing and while consumers seek the digital convenience of shopping online, there is evidence that they still value the human intervention of the in-store experience. The question therefore remains: in a world affected by the pandemic, how can retailers recreate the in-store experience through online channels?

Consumers crave connection in a digitally dominated world

As parts of Australia continue to move in and out of the lockdown, most customers expect brands to interact with them seamlessly through digital channels. However, as we continue to see restrictions on interaction, recent research shows that people want their digital experiences to be more human.

Infosys and its human experience agency WONGDOODY asked 1,000 Australians what they think of living increasingly digitally-centric lives in order to better understand their future digital needs.

While ease and speed of use are key to positive online experiences for 75% of Australians, research has shown that almost half of them feel empathy is lacking in digital interactions. Another 45% also missed the humor and chatter that comes with talking to another human.

Additionally, 41% of those surveyed said quick human contact for troubleshooting impacted their brand loyalty, while 30% said quick digital contact affected it. This flies in the face of the popular assumption that people seek the convenience and anonymity of digital interactions, instead showing a preference for human interaction.

How Cloud Native Technologies Can Help Digital Retail Experiences Become More Human

Many Australian retailers still rely on legacy mainframe infrastructure technology due to years of underinvestment, limiting their ability to scale to meet the desire for humanized digital shopping experiences. Investing in a cloud-native, microservices-based, and API-first architecture will help retailers build a digital infrastructure that gives them the agility to scale quickly to exceed customer expectations.

In the same Infosys and WONGDOODY study, 4 in 10 Australian respondents believed that personalized predictive technology would make digital experiences more personal. Additionally, a quarter of those surveyed felt that using avatars would make digital experiences more personal, while 18% felt the same about augmented reality.

Augmented and virtual reality technologies offer great potential for humanizing digital experiences, as these solutions are harnessed to create new, immersive and enjoyable experiences. For example, augmented and virtual reality technologies can allow shoppers to virtually try on clothes, while providing retail entertainment offerings, such as magic mirrors, selfie booths and interactive games accessible anywhere and. whenever.

Where from here? How retailers can capitalize on new technologies

Now more than ever, it’s critical that retail businesses continue to modernize and transform their technology landscape. Integrated omnichannel experiences rather than physical ones are paramount.

Local retailers should look to invest in digital platforms that create memorable, human-centric omnichannel shopping experiences and prioritize digital investments in areas that optimize customer engagement and retention to offset declining sales. physical stores.

Cloud-native technology platforms underpin this as they allow retailers to leverage AI, machine learning, and automation to gather real-time insight from the large amount of data. available to create transparent, differentiated and people-centered experiences that delight customers.

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