Traditional brands are struggling to keep up with the next wave of e-commerce-savvy businesses, as technological capabilities begin to expand and further transform the way we exchange goods and services.

“Going” shopping is quickly becoming an antiquated sentiment—the bricks-and-mortar model of commerce is giving way to virtual shopping as digital capabilities evolve to provide consumers with increasingly personalized experiences. Traditional brands are struggling to keep up with the next wave of e-commerce-savvy businesses, as technological capabilities begin to expand and further transform the way we exchange goods and services.

A driving force of this transformation is automation powered by artificial intelligence.

A recent Gartner survey suggests that, generally, organizations are becoming aware of the importance of utilizing AI in some way: 59% of those surveyed said they are looking into ways to build their AI strategies, while the other 41% have already adopted automated solutions.

This new era of e-commerce and its ever-evolving capabilities stand to impact brand engagement with customers. So what are these impacts, and how can businesses best utilize the possibilities as e-commerce becomes the new norm?

Key solutions in the new frontier of personalized e-commerce

As brands continue to iterate and refine their digital strategies, it’s clear that personalization is a defining factor in customer satisfaction. With the space in AI-powered customer experience rapidly expanding, there are a number of solutions that especially stand to revolutionize e-commerce as we know it.

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  • Chatbots, automated experiences and conversational AI

The digitization of commerce is changing consumer expectations and inspiring new and unprecedented shopping patterns and experiences. Brands must capitalize on the emerging markets of voice-powered technology and digital assistants to reinvent their customer engagement strategies or face the possibility of extinction.

Avianca Airlines is one company that has taken advantage of this technology. The airline has differentiated itself from others in the market with the adoption of Carla—an intelligent chatbot that uses the latest in AI technology to facilitate customer relations, and, by extension, re-invent customer experiences. The Carla chatbot manages customer needs across the usual flight checklist—including check-ins, flight status, and seat changes—and provides a personalized experience for customers, with simple solutions to their needs.

Carla is but one example of successfully integrated chatbots that provide an enhanced customer experience. Amazon Go’s “Lex” service provides a development platform to build customer-assisting chatbots across digital platforms, including Facebook and Slack. By integrating natural language and high-quality speech recognition into its chatbot software, “Lex” has been able to help developers design and implement a chatbot that delivers a conversational tone and facilitates customer interactions in a personalized, intuitive manner.

  • Social commerce and wearable technology

As brands struggle to realign their business models to better serve customers, consumers are favoring centralized platforms that are personalized, user-centric and convenient. Building a consumer’s personalized “genome” with automation technology can boost a brand’s credibility among a fickle user base. One of the ways brands address this problem is to employ wearable technology.

Cruise line Carnival Corp. innovated its guest services in this manner by combining wearable technology, a digital experience portal, and an IoT network into a centralized portal to bring each of its millions of guests personalized experiences without sacrificing convenience. Ocean Compass, as the portal is called, delivers tailored recommendations using guests’ streaming data, machine learning and contextual awareness. These data points are provided by the wearable Ocean Medallion personally assigned to each guest and are primed to help provide a seamless and hyper-relevant experience across a continuum of consumer interests and preferences.

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Similarly, the Cannes Lions Festival used wearable technology as a way to centralize user experiences for all attendees. Designed by Accenture Interactive, the Cannes Connect Band is a Bluetooth-enabled networking device that paired with the accompanying Cannes Connect app to provide attendees with a streamlined option to distribute and exchange professional information. This was achieved by “bumping” one’s wristband with another participant, which then synced and stored personalized IDs and business information on the Connect app. The result was a centralized, simplified and convenient solution for exchanging information.

A new era of customer engagement

The future of the e-commerce industry presents a bevy of challenges for brands to provide customers with satisfactory experiences that make them feel like their specific preferences are being catered to.

Surviving the new era of e-commerce and its technological solutions will require brands to consider some of the new challenges that are being presented as consumer expectations begin to rise, such as:

  • What is the real impact of commerce digitization and what can/should brands do to put customer experience at the forefront of their business?
  • How can enterprises leverage consumer insights to forecast untapped opportunities within their organization?
  • What is the role of physical-digital integration in this new era of customer engagement, and how can businesses redefine their commerce efforts to favor quality experiences and convenience?

Amazon Go and Carnival exemplify businesses that have heeded these questions and adapted to a new, emerging landscape of e-commerce and customer experience. As applicable technology continues to refine and reinvent the customer experience, brands can look to these examples when developing solutions to cater to new customers that demand their needs be met with the press of a button, or the prompt of their voice.

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Will your brand be ready to accommodate the new normal of personalized e-commerce?

 

Anatoly Roytman is head of Accenture Interactive for Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.

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