This Holiday Season, Intelligent Technologies Will Make Shoppers Happier Than Ever

If retailers want to win plaudits from customers during the upcoming holiday season, they need to deliver more than low prices and good value. They must also to make the shopping process and experience “smooth and easy,” according to a survey conducted by Deloitte Insights.

Predictably, the annual survey — conducted ahead of the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S., which kicks off on Black Friday and Cyber Monday — found that more than 60 percent of shoppers prefer online channels.

With online shopping cart abandonment rates hovering at about 70 to  80 percent, retail CIOs understand that intelligent technologies will help deliver great experiences to consumers, which will translate to increased profits — and are investing accordingly. According to a new Gartner forecast, “Global retail sector technology spending will grow 3.6 percent to reach almost $203.6 billion in 2019, with similar growth rates for the next two years.”

At the recent SAP Customer Experience Live event, the company showcased technology prototypes demonstrating that SAP understands what shoppers want and has the technology to help retailers deliver it. Whether people are shopping for real estate or the latest fashion trends, SAP believes its solutions will delight consumers while protecting their data. Below are a few examples.

Helping Shoppers Recreate Looks They Love

Mobile applications are one of the fastest-growing software categories for retailers, and the “Fashion Labs” prototype takes mobile shopping up a notch. If someone sees a look they love on Instagram worn by their favorite celebrity, the solution lets them use their mobile phone to upload a picture of the outfit to their favorite retailers’ website and easily find a similar outfit. The app, which sits on retailers’ websites, uses image recognition combined with SAP Commerce Cloud to return several products that will help customers recreate the desired look.

Georg Kreimer, head of SAP Customer Experience Labs, says, “With context-driven services, we can build a profile — even of an anonymous user — to see what they click on and spend time on. So when they do register, you can tailor what you send them.” Depending on what shoppers look at, recommendations will change over time.

The solution is optimized for use on mobile devices, so theoretically, someone could snap a photo of an outfit they like on the street, upload it, and order it from their smartphone almost instantly.

Blockchain and Digital Real Estate Assistants

Consumers’ journey from browsing to buying generally includes a hybrid of online and in-person experiences. Purchasing real estate is no exception. SAP’s digital real estate assistant uses digital twin, conversational artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain technologies to make sure that the move from virtual to real-world shopping is frictionless.

It works like this: Using a digital twin, of a computer-generated representation of a physical asset, customers can virtually tour an apartment online. While “visiting” the apartment, people can ask questions or book an appointment to see it. All these requests go to a smart assistant that uses conversational AI. People can continue their conversation with the smart assistant when viewing the physical apartment.

All data from those conversations is stored securely in blockchain (with shoppers’ permission), to be accessed and assessed by the sales team. This frees up sales representatives from doing tactical, logistical work and lets them focus on customers who are further along in buying process, armed with information to make them more effective and likely to keep customers satisfied.

Combining SAP Leonardo Blockchain capabilities, SAP Sales Cloud, and SAP Conversational AI allows customers and sales people to travel seamlessly back and forth across online and in-person engagements, making the buying process smoother and easier for everyone.

VIVO, a Customer Data Guardian

The more companies understand exactly who their consumers are, the better they can serve them. Consumers want that level of service but also want assurances their data is protected. SAP Customer Experience Labs created a prototype named VIVO to help companies walk this fine line. VIVO allows people to create a trusted, secure, centralized digital identity that is stored in blockchain and can be shared with vendors.

Kreimer explains: “The goal is to create a trusted identity that people can use for everything, including their health, financial, and legal exchanges.” Built with SAP Customer Data Cloud and blockchain technology, Kreimer gives an example of how health data could be used. “A person could choose to upload information about their fitness activities levels into VIVO. That data could be shared with, for example, a company that provides online exercise coaching. With authorized access to fitness and health data, the company can put together customized coaching offers for users.”

Kreimer’s team worked with Munich-based startup evalu to develop a VIVO use case. The company provided SAP with smart shoe insoles that track the position of runners’ feet and suggest improvements to help them run healthier.

All of this is done with permission and customers can opt out at any point.

With innovation like this afoot, this holiday season will be an exciting one for shoppers.