Artificial intelligence is changing the face of retail by preventing its total disruption, says Philipp Rogge
Back in December 2017, Business Insider revealed that 3,600 retail stores would be closing in 2018 and the year hadn’t even begun. Longstanding corner-stones of our traditional shopping universe are struggling, and it seems we are just beginning to realise the significant impact of the changes we’re seeing.
Millennials, which are a marquee demographic for many retailers, are now between 20 and 36 years old, so they have more disposable income and they’re spending larger amounts as they start to have children. They are the first generation that grew up with the internet and this is having a strong impact on retail. Many other generations also want to shop online, so the retail industry needs to align with this changing buying behaviour. Amazon has long been regarded as the superior buying platform in terms of convenience and security, so what can other brands and retailers do to survive the new era of retail?
Basic elements of traditional selling and buying have disappeared as retailers play the optimisation game in the hope of gaining fast conversions from paid online adverts or clicks from search engines. However, two aspects of the process remains the same: people want to feel that they have made the right decision when buying a product, and they also want to have a positive customer experience. Consequently, Styla suggests that retailers go back to the basics when marketing their products: they must provoke an emotional response from customers by showing them why they should buy a product. This marketing approach could involve telling customers about the uniqueness of the product design, the production quality, or the great response they’re likely to receive from others if they wear or use the product.
Successful brands and retailers have started to put the emotional and informative customer experience back into their selling strategies. Their marketing strategies now focus on words like ‘storytelling’, ‘content’ and ‘native advertising’, while their websites include photographs in product grids, visually striking landing pages and they use social media to turn product fans into brand advocates.
However, 93% of US marketers feel that they haven’t successfully created convincing experiences online. It’s not hard to understand why – constructing a solid visual experience on a website is like building a house of cards on top of jelly. There’s no solid foundation and myriads of devices, frequent changes, A/B tests and personalisations render websites useless for deploying hand-crafted static graphics. Most retailers end up with websites that have blocks of visuals in repetitive patterns that don’t ignite a fire in the buyers’ hearts. Instead, they need to use a flexible technology that can change visual displays and customer experiences.
Styla understands websites, content particles, user behaviours and brand requirements and we use artificial intelligence to bring them all into perfect harmony so that marketers can tell their stories and sell products an emotional environment. We track and analyse website content and traffic, change the look and feel of graphical pieces, and we can integrate seamless shopping opportunities where appropriate.
Our goal is to help retailers tell the stories of their products so their digital touchpoints are just as inspiring and exciting for customers as a personal visit to the opening night of a flagship store. We’re working towards a future in which sellers showcase all there is to know and feel about a product so buyers can make wholehearted decisions on all their lifestyle choices.
Philipp Rogge is founder and CEO of Styla