How artificial intelligence and augmented reality will transform e-commerce
In full swing and already forced to reinvent itself? E-commerce, which shares increasingly permeable borders with physical stores, tends to be part of a whole called “Total Commerce”. Praised by consumers, the success of the latter is based in particular on artificial intelligence and virtual reality, real technological engines of new shopping experiences.
With growth of more than 14% between 2015 and 2016 to reach 72 billion euros, the turnover of French electronic commerce continues to increase, according to the Fevad. Over a billion online purchases were made last year, at a rate of 33 transactions per second. In 2017, Fevad forecasts that French e-commerce will reach 80 billion euros in turnover.
Despite the good results in e-commerce, Claude Chaffiotte, Executive Director of Accenture Interactive in France and Benelux, said: “e-commerce has no future.»And to add: “If it was built as opposed to physical commerce.“
Today, e-merchants, like Amazon, are opening physical stores, while retailers offer digital services, like Monoprix. Some brands, such as Fnac, have opted for a “phygital” experience, linking the offer of stores to that on the Internet. It is therefore appropriate to speak of “Total Commerce”. This concept is based on the notion of omnichannel. “The customer wants, above all, a service and an experience that harmoniously combines digital and physical», Adds Claude Chaffiotte.
The complementarity of physical and digital is real and henceforth integrated into new uses: a consumer learns online about a product, then goes to the store, orders the product in question online at one of the terminals located in the store and finishes by having the goods delivered to him. “On average, a customer will have 16 contacts with a car brand before buying a car. As many opportunities to win over a customer as there are threats of losing them», Clarifies Claude Chaffiotte. From the website to the seller on the shelf, including the advertising muse or the mobile phone, these points of contact are legion. Their sole aim is to make the customer relationship as satisfactory as possible for the consumer.
What are consumers’ expectations? For Claude Chaffiotte, the answer is in two words: “liquid expectations”. They go much further than the act of purchasing described above since it involves the shift in consumer expectations from one industry to another, without these necessarily having any relation to each other. The consumer could, for example, demand to follow in real time the delivery of the meal he has just ordered. Or to compare the voltage taken by his general practitioner with that displayed on his connected watch.
Claude Chaffiotte sums up these “liquid expectations” as follows: “the customer would like everything to be as easy as ordering an Uber. Simple, natural, immersive and rich are therefore the prerequisites for the business of the future. And it is artificial intelligence (AI) that will allow it“. AI effectively enables simple and intuitive interactions with value creation at each point of contact. Hence a detailed knowledge of the customer which leads to a real personalization of the services offered by the retailers and brands. These two initials have been in use for ten years. The technology is finally coming of age.
Artificial intelligence, which has intellectual capacities comparable to those of humans, is based on perfect knowledge of the customer. It is based on the behavior of similar people or the history of their purchases, Internet browsing, etc.
Aware of the challenges related to artificial intelligence, GAFA are investing heavily in R&D and their work has given rise to chatbots. Originally, a bot is just a small piece of software responsible for automatically performing a very specific task. In this sense, it allows you to add an event to the calendar, retrieve information or even make a reservation in a restaurant.
As a result, chatbots have gradually become “virtual valets” capable of performing tasks and making personalized proposals, that is, based on the preferences of the person they serve. This is the case with Siri (Apple), Google Now or Cortana (Microsoft) who are real assistants.
According to a study conducted by GfK, 23% of online consumers said virtual interactions can have the same qualitative value as a physical presence.
Out of 22 countries studied, France arrives at the 13th place on this consideration, with 14% of consumers approving the value of a virtual relationship. Be careful, however, that this interaction does not become counterproductive, generating dissatisfaction.
Pragmatic, Claude Chaffiotte deciphers: “Take the example of a disaster: a water leak in a home in the middle of the night. Being able to “converse” with a chatbot rather than waiting for your insurer to open its phone lines at 8 am will be useful for you to prioritize the actions to be taken and prequalify the call until a human takes over the file and contacts the insured. “
Another flagship technology, virtual reality (VR) should bring another dimension to commerce.
This is a technology that allows a person to be immersed in an artificial, digitally created world. Last year Baidu, the Chinese Google, launched its first virtual reality app, DuSee. Not only is the person immersed in a virtual world, but they can interact with it. This is the perfect hybridization between VR and AI, one of the beginnings of which was the game Pokémon Go. Soon, a consumer will be able to choose his next trip after having “visited” virtually the countries offered by a tourist operator.
More specifically, a customer can be guided through the shelves of a store using his mobile phone, which will display a signposted path in virtual reality. “Brands and retailers are accelerating the integration of these technologies to give their consumers an enriched view of their environment», Concludes Claude Chaffiotte.
The challenge for brands is to offer an ever more innovative, integrated and continuous experience … while placing, using technology, people at the heart of their systems. Find all these topics with Le Shaker.