BÜLENT DAL | CEO
In a previous post- Cognitive computing and Customer Experience in Retail – I defined Cognitive computing as ‘the simulation of human intelligence & the thinking process; thinking, reasoning, learning & taking-action executed by the computer systems. In other words, it is an approach to perform the five human senses through information systems.’ We have been witnessing the critical changes in data-driven decision making and analytics systems & approaches, in the past years while creating solutions and initiating projects.
Let’s have a quick tour and understand how did we end up here?
In very early days, we started developing solutions for our customers to find the answer to their question “What Happened?”. After understanding this, the obvious question was “Why did it happen?” and we created solutions enabling interactive analysis, to find the answers. Any decent professional who knew the answers by then, started asking “What may happen?”, encouraging us to deliver our predictive solutions. Who can stop anyone to ask “What action should I take?” when they learn what is likely to happen in the future? Today the question evolved to the final – for now – form. “What is the next best action?” and we are adopting cognitive computing approach, to deliver the answer.
According to the Louis Columbus research published in Forbes in March 2017, 70% of retailers are expected to run cognitive computing systems by 2021. Minimizing out of stocks with real-time inventory tracking and operation monitoring, providing better and more personalized services to the customers, will be embraced as ways of creating value.
With the solutions we offer, the retail industry has come to the point of making the right decisions automatically, with the real-time, operational and customer experience data they have in hand. The efforts to deliver a more personalized and high-quality service to the consumer, with less time spent on the consumer’s side, did not only increase the operational efficiency but improved the customer experience, as well.
We are now at the point where the consumers will start judging the industry norms, with simple but impressive styles.
A study published by Synchrony Financial in March 2017 reveals predictions about the future customer expectations. According to these predictions, we will soon meet the DIY consumer.
- Customers have already begun to gather more information from content providers such as, search engines and social media before they even come to the store. Some are more informed on a specific product than the sales associates, as they enter the store. In the future, the consumer will get the information via sensors on the products, pay with fingerprints or smartphones, without accessing any POS or waiting in the queue. The associate will be in the store as the expert, to be consulted.
- Fitting rooms with interactive mirrors will be the medium to call a different size, to put an order or even to pay.
- No need to wait for the store to open. There will be 24/7 sales. Even if the store is closed, orders will be placed at the storefront, delivery will be done by robots.
- Physical stores will be preferred for experiencing the product, entertainment, learning and getting help. For example, a 3D face modeling application, that perceives the face shape of a person will suggest a personalized model of eye-glasses. After the selection of one of the choices, 3D printers will be printing the final product, while the customer is in the store,
- Entertaining, having a good time, listening to a mini-concert or having a cup of coffee while shopping, attending a course to make artisan chocolate or an original leather belt in the store, reserving a fitting room; These are likely to be witnessed in the close future of retail.
- Customers will start asking “Why am I going to the store? Stores should come to me!”. With voice-driven systems, customers will expect the product or service to wherever they are, at home, in the car, etc, just by calling their name.
- Most important of all, the customers will be more time-conscious. They will expect to have what they want, right away. Customers will not settle for any delivery or return pickup that exceeds an hour.
As the expectation of the customer’s experience grows, we will look for an answer to the new question “How can we meet this expectation in a better way?” Apparently; brands adopting systems based on cognitive computing will be differentiated in every field and will be leading the competition ahead.