What if AI could help customers look and feel their best? Paid media has become the default way to reach a wider audience, but as privacy rules change and impact Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) across multiple industries, especially beauty, the need to adapt has become paramount. With an omnichannel strategy, marketers must target their ad spend so that shoppers will move through the acquisition and purchase funnel as efficiently as possible.
While many online retailers provide only a generic experience for their entire shopper group, forward-thinking marketers create personalized websites for each customer across online and offline channels. Customized websites are improving sales results, customer satisfaction, and retention.
Beyond online purchases, many consumers now want more from their in-store shopping—and expect a seamless experience between the two. As just one example of AI-powered technology, a brick-and-mortar company can institute an on-shelf QR code. When the customer scans it, they can see the exact brand and shade they are interested in and which products are recommended. The right technology can provide the customer with a quick and easy way to "try" various products and then purchase them in-store or through their smartphone.
Using new AI-powered technology can transform the online buying experience from a two-dimensional online-only experience into a uniquely personalized one that includes both physical and digital interaction.
Understand How the Buyer Experience Is Changing
The pandemic turned the lives of many consumers upside down, changing how many shopped. This new customer behavior was not limited to just the first pandemic lockdowns, but is also evident today. A 2022 report by Adobe Digital Economy Index found that US consumers spent $1.7 trillion online in the 24 months between March 2020 and February 2022, a $609 billion increase from 2018 and 2019 combined. The report expects that online spending will continue to rise in 2022 and beyond.
Now, more than ever, it is essential to blend this increased online customer presence with the in-store customer experience as seamlessly as possible, especially in the beauty industry. The in-store experience has always been an integral part of product sales as it provides an opportunity for shoppers to, for example, try different shades to find the right lipstick, eye shadow, foundation, blush, or other products. With AI and Augmented Reality (AR) technology, brands and stores can show customers exactly what products would look like on them with a selfie and a swipe through virtual product trials.
These virtual trials—and the personalized service and recommendations they can offer through AI—allow a shopper to try various products online or in-store. In addition, this technology will enable customers to see whether the products are in stock when integrated with a store's inventory system. They can then choose to make their purchase online or to go to the store for the final purchase.
How to Harness AI Technology
While it is excellent that AI and AR technologies are readily available in beauty, the real challenge is for beauty brands and retailers to understand how to harness these solutions to solve the customers' problems and deliver the desired journey.
Brick-and-mortar is not dead, though, and this is seen in the more experiential in-store interactions that are increasingly complementing the more transactional online experience. For example, a study by Juniper Research expects global retail spending on AI to be $7.3 billion in 2022, up from just $2 billion in 2018.
Blending online and in-store shopping provides retailers with tremendous data that can improve the customer experience and increase the customers' lifetime value when used correctly with AI. For example, after implementing AI, Walmart saw quarterly earnings jump 2.8% in Q2 2020, according to a report by Chain Store Age.
Buying beauty products is a very personal experience. People use these products to express themselves to the world. Implementing technology into the customer journey transforms the knowledge from one dominated by default habits to one open to trying new things.
Create a Seamless Commerce Experience Across All Channels
Using AI, an online experience can provide customers with customized products and a personalized experience that caters to their wants and needs. AI can offer customers a convenient online shopping experience or the knowledge and confidence to make the trip to the brick-and-mortar store knowing what they want. A pleasant online experience results in a seamless customer journey. It also gives the retail associate the information they need to provide a personalized shopping experience that ensures they make the sale and build a long-lasting customer relationship.
The use of AI technology that has begun to shape the buying experience today does not necessarily mean the fall of the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience. On the contrary, it empowers both it and the online channel to please the consumer.
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