Revolutionising Retail: The Role of Technology in Elevating Customer Experience

Written by 
Dee Set Staff
23 May, 2024

Whether you’re an early adopter or a laggard when it comes to embracing the phenomenon of technology - whatever your stance on it, it’s clear that the revolution is happening right under our noses (or more so in our shopping baskets).  From the growing use of AI to retailers embracing a more seamless omnichannel approach, it’s becoming essential for retailers to adopt these new technology innovations quickly. After all, you need to stay ahead of the competition, all whilst providing customers with an engaging shopping experience. 

Exhausting much?

Thanks to the constant evolution of consumer needs and values, it’s almost as if retailers and brands need to stay two steps ahead to ensure that they’re covering all bases. It’s clear that the evolution of tech has empowered shoppers who are now in a position where they have more control than before. They are more connected, empowered, and they even have the luxury of choice.

Customer experience encompasses every encounter and feeling a customer undergoes with a brand or retailer, spanning from the initial interaction to the final one, and it is rapidly evolving. Many shoppers now expect a more personalised experience and will even utilise the use of social media or online reviews to inform their future purchasing habits. Supporting this, it was recently discovered that 51% of consumers say they will leave a brand if it doesn’t personalise their customer experience through their needs, expectations, and preferences. Additionally, consumers expect optimal service delivery and instant gratification – they want what they want, when and exactly how they want it. This is why brands must deploy the use of data and analytics as a tool to quickly identify any changes in situations, usage, requirements, and patterns so that they can respond accordingly.

Technology plays such a crucial role in delivering elevated customer experience as it sets the foundation for customer experience to build on. In our latest blog, we delve into which technology trends are shaping the industry, how brands are utilising them and we explore the impact this has on the way shoppers will interact with the retail industry in the future. We also chat to our Chief Information Officer David Pugh to get his insight on the role of technology in elevating customer experience. 

Innovation first…

In today's world, self-checkouts, click-and-collect order processes and digital apps have become the standard. As technology continues to embed itself in our everyday lives, retailers and brands must focus on innovation and provide customers with a complete digital experience. 

Q: What technological advancements do you believe have had an impact on reshaping the retail landscape in recent years?

UK supermarket uses facial recognition tech to track shoppers - Coda Story

A: Firstly, there's been a notable surge in the demand for cloud computing within the retail sector. This trend is poised to continue, offering retailers the ability to gain a comprehensive view of their stock levels in real-time. This enhanced agility, scalability, and security are vital in enabling retailers to swiftly adapt to shifts in customer behaviour, ensuring they stay ahead of the curve.

Mobile applications have also emerged as a powerful tool for retailers, fostering customer loyalty and engagement. By leveraging mobile apps, retailers can gather valuable insights into customer shopping habits, allowing for personalised experiences that keep customers coming back for more.

Furthermore, innovations such as self-checkouts and click-and-collect order processes have revolutionised the way consumers shop. These streamlined processes not only enhance convenience for customers but also optimise operational efficiency for retailers.

Of course, we can't overlook the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI) in the retail space. While still in its early stages, AI holds immense potential to revolutionise the customer experience. From personalised recommendations to predictive analytics, AI-powered solutions are set to create richer, more tailored experiences for shoppers.

Additionally, advancements like facial recognition technology are being deployed to enhance security measures in retail environments. By identifying offenders and reducing theft, these technologies contribute to a safer and more secure shopping experience for both retailers and customers. Supporting this, Co-Op recently invested in AI technology to monitor self-checkouts after a 44% surge in retail crime.

As we continue to embrace the digital age, it's important for the retail experience to evolve with the digital expectations of today's consumers. By harnessing the power of these technological innovations, retailers can not only meet but exceed customer expectations, driving success in an increasingly competitive landscape.

How data can drive innovation…

As mentioned previously, data is an essential source of information that can help a brand or retailer to curate a profile of their average consumer. They can use data to predict future trends and gain valuable insight into what they purchase which will help them to make informed decisions and make effective strategic actions. 

This essential data can be extracted from various channels including websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, customer service interactions, and in-store visits. A great example of a business getting maximum use of their data is online retailer, Ocado. These retail giants use data analytics to optimise their supply chain. The company tracks customer purchase history, weather data, and traffic patterns to determine the best way to deliver groceries to its customers. This helps Ocado to reduce costs and improve its delivery efficiency.

Data has the power to completely transform the way a business operates by providing valuable insights and observations that can improve customer satisfaction, nurture engagement, and drive loyalty.

Q: How do you think Dee Set has used technology to enhance customer experience within the retail sector?

A: Dee Set is a people-centric, data led business.  We wanted to create the best technology and put it in the hands of the best people. We also wanted to use data to help us become more efficient, identify opportunities where we could make a difference for Dee Set and our customers plus create something which none of our competitors could rival.  

Our investment in technology over the last few years has meant we have not only disrupted ourselves but more importantly, we have disrupted our industry. We have the best people using the best technology collecting millions of data points every week.  

Data is so important to us and our customers.  We use this data to deliver insights into products/sales/compliance and store visits.  More importantly, the data is structured and cleansed and we are looking at ways in which we can layer AI technology to deliver new and innovative solutions for our customers.  

Why integration is vital…

The integration of tech is a vital process that goes beyond enhancing customer experiences, it also has the power to help businesses streamline their operations and reduce the amount of potential risk and error. For businesses looking to integrate tech into their current processes, it is essential that they plan out the average customer journey and find places where technology can help. This could look like the introduction of chatbots for optimal customer service or personalised shopping discounts for shoppers on their loyalty card app. By successfully merging digital and traditional channels together, brands and retailers can provide a seamless experience. 

A great example of a business integrating technology into their processes seamlessly is Tesco who recently collaborated with AI technology business, Eagle Eye. Tesco has recently launched hyper-personalised offers and promotions to its loyalty scheme members under a new ‘Clubcard Challengers’ solution. 

Reapp gives that extra boost to Energizer - Reapp

Q: Can you share any examples where the integration of technology has resulted in improvements to customer satisfaction or operational efficiency?

A: Working with greetings card provider Hallmark, we introduced them to Reapp Allocate and Order to help them to optimise the management of their field teams.  To assist the company with low or our of stock issues, we pushed Reapp Order as it enabled them to track inventory and store capacity in real-time, tailored to each store and product line. Order can then generate order reports which help to address any stock shortages. Our technology offerings ensure that Hallmark always stays ahead of the curve!

Additionally, the Hallmark team adopted Allocate which ensures that the right field merchandisers are available at the right time. This Job allocation system puts forward the most efficient person to complete a job based on skills, proximity to the store, and their availability. The system will then locate the 5 closest people for the job and will rank them in order of who is most suitable. This creates a focus on efficiently driving tasks, optimising store visits and minimising travel time.

Image Recognition and LSV alerts for Energizer: Working with renowned battery provider Energizer, we introduced them to the incredible AI driven, image recognition capabilities of our Reapp Spotlight product. We helped to eradicate the brands issue of product availability, which is an ongoing problem across retail. By applying Reapp to the problem, our technology identified issues in supply, stocking and displaying of Energizer products, ensuring that all lines are available to purchase every day. 

Additionally, the Reapp Spotlight platform will send an LSV alert to a dedicated Territory Sales Manager should any future issues arise. The LSV alert will direct the TSM to the desired store(s) with a breakdown of the required actions. These actions will help Territory Sales Managers to apply interventions that will help to resolve the problem and result in an enhanced sales performance. 

Q: In what ways do you predict technologies such as AI and AR further transforming the retail industry, and how is Dee Set preparing for these changes?

A: Technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AR (Augmented Reality) are set to shake up the retail industry in several ways. AI can enhance our abilities to predict consumer behaviour and even optimise inventory levels to prevent out-of-stock or overstock situations, which can be costly for retailers. It can also provide predictive analysis, forecasting demand with higher accuracy, and can help to help optimise supply chains for more efficient operations.

On the other hand, AR can transform the shopping experience by enabling immersive and interactive experiences for customers. It can be used for interactive displays and smart shelves, enhancing product visibility and engagement in-store.

Dee Set is preparing for these changes by leveraging AI-driven solutions and AR technology to enhance the in-store shopping experience, enabling us to stay ahead in the competitive retail landscape.

I also expect to see the rise in businesses Implementing chatbots for 24/7 customer service which can significantly enhance the retail customer experience. This round-the-clock availability ensures that customers receive prompt support, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Additionally, IoT (Internet of Things) technology holds immense potential for transforming retail operations and customer experiences. Smart shelves equipped with IoT sensors can track inventory levels in real-time, alerting staff when stock needs to be replenished. Whereas, Interactive displays powered by IoT can engage customers with personalised content and recommendations based on their preferences and browsing history. Overall, these methods can save businesses a lot of time and money, which is so valuable.

AI can also assist brands and retailers in tracking and reducing their carbon footprint across the supply chain, contributing to improving sustainability efforts. By analysing data related to transportation, manufacturing, and packaging processes, AI algorithms can identify areas for improvement and suggest environmentally friendly alternatives.

Look Blog: Interactive Retail Smart Shelves: Why, How and Where to Use!

Maintaining a human-centric approach…

As we embrace the benefits of technology, it's crucial not to lose sight of the human element that is still very essential. AI should be a tool for people that helps them to improve their strategies, not a replacement for the connections that people can forge with consumers. When businesses replace people with AI, they have weaker outcomes and produce lower-value work. But when people work with AI instead, the exact opposite is true.

But how do people feel about the increasing use of cutting edge technology like AI? Overall, the concept of trust is low, especially with older consumers. Additionally, 58% of people say they feel neutral about the rise of AI, and a full quarter (24%) say they feel negative about it.

Thanks to the use of chatbots, virtual assistants, and personalised content which have the ability to connect with customers by analysing data and utilising digital channels, brands are able to foster a sense of loyalty and increase brand satisfaction. However, these methods lack the empathetic and understanding human approach that allows us to understand the needs and emotions of others. This quality is vital in customer service, conflict resolution, and building strong interpersonal relationships. Technology may process data, but it cannot make ethical choices or understand the nuances of human values.

Q: How does Dee Set balance the use of cutting-edge technology with maintaining a human-centric approach?

A: As part of our digital transformation project called Chrysalis, we wanted to put a lot of focus on creating a truly world class digital workforce. Our first mobile application we deployed as part of this transformation was a colleague engagement tool which would create a digital community enabling easy access to new systems and data plus giving all our teams a voice to share knowledge and build relationships.  The SaaS based app from a company called Blink has been a real success for us.  Engagement stats are consistently high at over 90%.

We also launched a suite of mobile apps under our tech brand Reapp to improve efficiency in the field and collect more structured data which allows us to create better insights for our customers and helps us internally to analyse what we do and improve our in-store efficiency.

All of these systems are now allowing our people to use data in a way which we have never done before.  A true data led call approach is enabling our teams to increase customer sales, improve compliance and provide better efficiencies for our customers. 

Keeping the practice of extracting data ethical…

Any business that is involved in the process of extracting customer data from their processes has a responsibility to make sure that the recipient of the data uses it properly by agreeing on how they can use it.

With many retailers leveraging AI to customise product suggestions and marketing efforts to align with consumer preference, this presents important considerations regarding consumer privacy and the ethical handling of customer data. Retailers must find a delicate balance between personalisation and privacy protection.

Q: With data playing an increasingly crucial role in retail operations, how does Dee Set ensure the ethical use of customer data?

A: Dee Set collects, generates, analyses and disseminates data, both structured and unstructured for a broad variety of customers across the brand and retail space.  We are very mindful of how we use and store this data which is why we ensure our cloud based data repositories have the highest security thresholds and core data is contained in a way which keeps all our data private.

Our Information Security team has delivered a real step change in our approach to Data ethics especially around the generation, collection, sharing, and use of data. We respect the values for privacy, fairness, and transparency for all our customers.  

Q: What challenges has Dee Set encountered in implementing new technologies, and how have these challenges been addressed?

A: Technology has been a great enabler for change.  However, it is only one part of the jigsaw.  

Adoption and embedding change into the organisation means a shift in culture and ways of working.  

We have implemented new training tools to help our teams learn the new skills required to work smarter and use data to drive better outcomes for our customers.

Our continuous improvement and agile development approach means we can deliver change faster than ever before, iterating, learning and adopting new technology and ways of working are moving us to be a more data led business.  This drives process change and ultimately delivers better outcomes for our customers.

Q: How do you see the role of physical retail stores evolving in the era of digitalisation? What strategies is Dee Set employing to stay competitive in this shifting landscape?

A: Here at the Dee Set Group, we are proud to have a data-led approach to our store visits. By consistently monitoring in-store performance, we successfully show our clients why, how and where performance in a particular area isn’t performing as desired. By spotting weaknesses or deficiencies in the process or strategy, brands and retailers can then make the necessary changes to rectify and improve performance. It’s a combination of our talented teams and the latest technology that sets us apart from the crowd when it comes to store auditing and data insights.  Our goal is never to replace individuals with technology but to enhance the individual experience with retailing technology.

During our data-led calls, our team of Territory Sales Managers utilise our industry-leading Image recognition software to enhance efficiency. This technology collects crucial numbers where you need them most. Stock availability and comparative data from selected brands is supplied directly to their devices. They also have the ability to guarantee store compliance and planograms are followed. 

Q: Looking ahead, what do you think is the next big breakthrough in retail technology, and how is Dee Set positioning itself to lead in this space?

A: AI is ultimately going to deliver a seismic shift in a number of areas within retail. With Dee Set’s multi-million investment in Reapp, I believe we have the perfect tool set to help brands and retailers to sell more.  Our mobile, cloud and data-first approach to technology has given us the scale and pace to react and deliver any campaign and demonstrate a real ROI on the customer investment.   

Our commitment to innovation and agility ensures that we can swiftly adapt to evolving market trends and consumer demands. By harnessing the power of AI, we not only enhances its competitive advantage but it also help to solidifies our position as a leader in the rapidly evolving landscape of retail technology. Through Reapp, Dee Set is poised to unlock new levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and profitability for its clients, ultimately reshaping the future of retail.

In conclusion, the adoption of cutting-edge technology enables businesses to reap the massive benefits it has the potential to provide. For forward-thinking businesses, these innovations give them a fighting chance of standing out against their competition all whilst enabling them to improve their internal and external operations, reduce costs across the board, and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers. Ultimately, successful digital transformation enhances the overall customer experience. 

Innovative integration with AI is proven to open new doors of opportunities for many retailers and brands. Those who embrace these innovations whilst seeing the importance of being transparent and maintaining a human-centric approach will be the ones who will strive in the current retail climate. 

At Dee Set, we’re experts at maximising the impact of retail technology in stores. We'll give your brand all the tools you’ll need to make the most of your floor and shelf space, using data-driven solutions, shelf-edge insights and image recognition technology to supercharge your strategy!

If you’re ready to start maximising the impact of your promotions, increasing sales, and driving higher revenue, get in touch with a member of the friendly team here at Dee Set. 

Dee Set Logistics Ltd/Dee Set Confectionery Ltd, trading as Dee Set, registered in England, Scotland and Wales. Registered No: SC208421/04297287.Vat No: 896110414.