Boosting the Shopping Experience

Product Recommendations

Most every Internet shopper has experienced “If you like this, consider this” and other similar pitches based on buying history and preferences. But, advances in data analysis and other related forms of technology hold the promise of more interactive, personalized forms of shopping guidance and suggestions. For instance, clothing retailer The North Face now offers an online tool called Fluid Expert Personal Shopper. The system, which uses IBM’s Watson cognitive computer technology, employs a “personal shopper” that can ask consumers questions about gender, location and even the sort of weather conditions where the clothing will be worn. From there, the system can provide specific recommendations.

More Useful, More Focused Apps

An increasing number of retailers are using mobile apps as a means to improve in-store shopping experiences and better interaction with store employees. That can begin well before a customer arrives at the store itself. For instance, retailer Nordstrom’s mobile app allows customers to check details such as product availability, size and color before they visit a Nordstrom store. The system also offers personalized recommendations based on gathered customer data. Customers who opt in can also have their profiles — including purchase histories — forwarded to in-store salespeople when they enter a store so they can receive immediate, personalized service.

Greater Delivery Choices

The convenience of mobile Internet-based shopping has afforded consumers a greater range of control over not only when they shop but also where and when they receive items they buy. Locational data provided by the proliferation of smartphones takes that level of convenience and specificity to a completely new level. In one respect, that opens up the possibility that items can be delivered to customers wherever they happen to be — at home, on the job, at a restaurant having lunch and at any number of other locations.

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