Understanding consumers is key for retail innovation

Understanding consumers is key for retail innovation

RSM helped Priority Cycles use AI and virtual reality technologies to create new experiences for its customers 

Lindsay Carpen shares how RSM’s focus on consumers helps clients improve customer experiences

Elly Yates-Roberts |

The retail industry is a breeding ground for innovation as businesses seek to meet the needs of consumers in the most effective and inspiring ways.  

“We have found real value in changing the customer experience by embedding technology directly into interactions,” says Lindsay Carpen, a partner in retail and consumer products at RSM. “Using technology to evaluate user behaviour and spot changing preferences or emerging trends is a hot topic for us.” 

Carpen is among the many retail experts that believe that the main goal of technology in the industry is in understanding customers. “Once you know what your target audience is looking for and how they interact with your business, it is much easier to give them what they want,” he says.

With this belief at its core, RSM has made a name for itself in helping clients to reimagine how to leverage technology to drive new and exciting customer engagements. For example, during a partnership with a winery, RSM developed a virtual sommelier using an artificial intelligence-driven hologram, a guided wine selection tour using AI and lights, and a wine history experience that saw images and information projected onto a restaurant tabletop.

“We were particularly proud of this partnership as it enabled us to think outside the box and create a unique set of technology-enabled experiences for a particular target audience,” says Carpen.

Another customer, Priority Bicycles, came to the firm looking to develop a new and exciting way to purchase bicycles. It wanted technology to serve as the platform for its future growth.

RSM helped the retailer to create a connected physical and e-commerce store with AI-driven virtual assistance using customer insights and automated security measures like fraud detection. “The goal was to make bicycling simpler,” says Carpen. “Bicycle sales are based on customer demand, which requires finding new methods to incorporate user feedback into all aspects of the business.

“The company fully embraced what we had to offer to differentiate its business. Our collaboration included an augmented reality solution to service bicycles in the field, as well as a product selection and configuration tool in its showroom.”

The partnership has allowed Priority Bicycles to deliver a premium customer experience, setting it apart from its competition. And it can now use analytics to continually innovate based on customer feedback.

“It’s not about having the data; it’s about having a partner like RSM to work with that data and make it functional,” says Connor Swegle, chief marketing officer at Priority Bicycles. “We now understand how to use data to make our business stronger.”

RSM will host tours of its Priority Bicycles retail experience centre at the NRF 2023 event in New York, as well as showcasing other new innovations, including: an LED light selection that connects physical spaces with digital information; Dynamics 365 Guides, which uses mixed reality and Microsoft HoloLens; machine learning analytics for user emotions analysis; and in-store heat mapping and traffic tracking.

“The whole RSM team is incredibly excited for NRF,” says Carpen. “It not only gives us an opportunity to showcase how we are leveraging our own technologies and that of partners like Microsoft, but it also allows us to highlight how we continue to strive for retail innovation.” 

This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription

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