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Industry experts offer up 2018 predictions on retail customer experience

In looking back at 2017 in retail customer experience, there were lots of big headlines, a big wave of emerging technologies and a long list of strategies in play as retailers strive to enhance and advance the customer experience.

As the new year arrives, it’s a great time to look ahead at what’s to come from those in the trenches. Retail customer experience gurus, leaders and experts shared their insight with Retail Customer Experience via email as 2017 ebbed to a close.

Pricing, data and AI will hit spotlight

Katie Smith, retail analysis and insights director at EDITED, expects greater pricing transparency among retailers and that 2018 will see brands experimenting with ways to use prices to attract customers.

“This includes giving customers a discount if they remove the ‘free returns’ option or buy multiple items, or are transparent about supply chain costs, to align with consumer values,” she said, adding she expects the “AI avalanche” will continue.

“The continued expansion of Amazon into groceries, apparel and other consumer goods mean AI will be essential for retailers’ survival. In 2018, new AI applications — including more chatbots, voice activated devices, real-time analytics and systems to detect payment fraud will flood the industry. Savvy retailers will recognize which apps to use for greater personalization, customer service and inventory management.”

Riversand co-founder and CEO Upen Varanasi expects data to be in big play as retailers kiss focus group efforts goodbye and embrace more concise data and data intelligence.

“Focus groups used to be heavily relied upon for insights into consumer preferences and attitudes. This outdated means of testing products and services with consumers is undergoing an evolution thanks to personal information management and social media insights,” he wrote, adding “focus groups will evolve to be more into finding insights to the “what if” areas of new product and industry sectors, where they may enhance data.”

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Disclaimer: Statements in this article should not be considered investment advice, which is best sought directly from a qualified professional.