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When two worlds collide: The future of retail is 'Phygital'

Published: Tuesday September 05, 2017

Ahead of the UK’s Customer Experience Exchange conference in London, GBG conducted research with consumers and retail brands to understand what each expects of the future of retail experience.

1) Biometric shopping at the ready

In the next 1-2 years, shoppers believe they will be using biometric data as a fundamental part of the shopping experience.   

1-in-3 believe they’ll be using thumb print

1-in-4 believe they’ll be suing voice recognition

1-in-5 believe they’ll be using facial recognition

1-in-6 believe they’ll be using iris scanning

This gives a strong indication that consumers are ready for this technology. Yet, when we asked some of the world’s largest retailers about plans to extend biometric data into their technology platforms, an overwhelming 83% said they have no such plans at present.

Consumer adoption of biometric interfaces will continue to rise as voice, facial and thumb print recognition become mainstream. With the long lead times for retail technology projects, brands need to be thinking now about adopting these new data formats. Unless they do, they are going to find themselves several years behind their more innovative, disruptive competitors

2) Locating the customer will continue to be a major focus for retailers

35% of retailers say smart delivery and the idea of “delivery to me” through driverless vehicles and robots will have the greatest impact to their business.

With Amazon robots already motoring along the sidewalks in California and drones hovering over the skies in remote parts of Africa, this is perhaps no real surprise.  But the focus will also need to shift to location intelligence that can locate an individual customer when they are out and about, and not just focus on static delivery addresses.

3) The future’s going ‘phygital’

31% of retail respondents agree that brands need to focus on creating a unified physical and digital experience for customers, with intelligent interrogation of data to customise every interaction.

This could include facial recognition to identity key customers or VIPs as they enter a physical store.  Or providing sales assistants at the point of sale with the right information from browsing habits to create a tailored selection of products that reflect the customer’s identified preferences.     

Physical stores continue to have an important place in our shopping culture. It is projected that Web-influenced sales in Europe will increase by 50% to reach €748 billion by 2021 (source: Forrester.) The need to apply insights gleaned from digital behaviour back into the physical world will be more important than ever to maintain competitive advantage.