Design thinking

Your customers expect (and deserve) a more inclusive retail experience. Here's how to create it.

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    Sam Richardson
  • Sep 14, 2021

The future of UX design in retail is all about personalizing the customer experience with their safety, convenience, and inclusivity in mind. Here’s how.

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Imagine a future where the texts on your phone to the emails on your computer aren’t just marketing shots in the dark but consistently highly personalized alerts that work with your lifestyle choices and support your daily habits. Where you aren’t just getting alerts for store sales, but also notifications related to your blood pressure, your monthly electricity usage, even messages straight from your fridge about updating your grocery list. 

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this year, one thing was clear. The future of retail interaction will be a considerably more personalized experience. As customers become more and more connected to the technology and devices they own, both the businesses who make the products and those who create various software on these platforms need to ask where they can fit into consumer’s lives to be useful, helpful, and forward-thinking. Below are four trends that dive into that personalization and inclusivity and how you can harness this technology to improve your experience for your own customers. 

Using artificial intelligence for better customer experience

While AI is nothing new, the way that companies are starting to use this technology as the foundation of how their physical product is built is. Artificial intelligence is no longer just added on top of an existing platform. It’s built-in from the beginning. For example, Siri, Apple’s AI assistant is now built entirely into your phone instead of running on the cloud as before. This means it’s a faster and more quality experience that doesn’t lose connection when engaging with a consumer. 

For retail companies looking to leverage AI to enhance their communication with their customers, this means taking advantage of the way this technology is now a part of the products your customers are using and harnessing it to make your business experience easier for them. For example, scanning photos of business information for the AI to input for customers instead of having them manually write out those details, or even allowing the AI to translate to your customer’s native language to make their conversation with your customer service team more inclusive. 

Enhancing physical and mental wellbeing through wearable technology

We take our devices everywhere with us and now, with smart wearables like watches and rings, people can automate aspects of their day to live healthier, more productive lives. 

Behavioral nudge technology has been used in retail before but using it to enhance mental and physical wellbeing by allowing customers autonomy about when and where they are reached on these devices is a relatively new concept.

Subtle automated reminders can now show people they are dehydrated or their sleep rhythm is off. It could help predict labor in pregnant women, or diabetic shock for people with diabetes. As Fast Company reports, this could even help the elderly by tracking the pace of steps and footfall, analyzing the data against clinical research, and sending a notification to alert of a potential fall both to family members and the person with the wearable device. 

The future of wearable technology doesn’t just make life easier, it makes life safer and gives people more autonomy over their health and wellbeing. 

Let’s hear it for more sound inclusivity 

After over a year in quarantine, most people have had more than their fair share of video calls whether for work or socially. And there’s no denying that something is lost in translation on these calls. There’s just no replacement for in-person communication. 

Apple is leaning in to improving sound quality by isolating people’s voices and enhancing their surroundings so if several people are talking at once, you can potentially hear everyone in the conversation. Further, this makes it easier for people who are hard of hearing to be able to participate in the conversation in a virtual environment. This is useful for everything from customer service calls, to virtual style appointments, to even hybrid work. Being able to be heard and to hear others is a huge step in more inclusive virtual customer service. 

Breaking through the noise with UI design

With Apple’s new releases surrounding focus and away time, they certainly are giving the consumer the opportunity to (at least try) turn off. That means in the future, there may actually be less opportunity to reach your customers by giving them more autonomy over their own attention. 

Making sure your approach to your messaging and just how much you try to reach them, will impact whether you get to break through the noise of their life. Personalization can help with that by giving customers content that will delight them and make their lives easier. Taking the time to gather data now will improve your customer experience over time

Retail in 2021

Learn more about how to personalize your customer’s retail experience in our latest edition of The Current.

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Sam Richardson

Sam is a senior visioneering consultant for Twilio Foundry and has spent more than 20 years working with the world's most recognizable brands to elevate their customer experience strategy. She is a lifelong advocate for customer-centric thinking, is a service and experience designer, and is passionate about putting human connection at the heart of all brand communication.