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Retail, consumer goods, and travel sectors can boost customer acquisition and revenue through generative AI: Accenture

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Mumbai: Information overload is causing frequent basket abandonment in retail, consumer goods and travel purchases according to Accenture research. Retail, consumer goods and travel companies could gain customers and revenue using generative AI to improve the entire purchasing journey

The research, based on a survey of 19,000 consumers across 12 countries including India highlights the issue of ‘information overload’, with 76% of consumers in India feeling inundated by too much choice and 74% saying they are bombarded by advertising, resulting in 88% abandoning purchases in the last three months of 2023.

Titled ‘The Empowered Consumer’, the Accenture research report offers fresh insights into consumers’ decision-making experiences across the retail, travel, and consumer goods industries. Amid competing claims, messages, advertising, choices, recommendations, algorithms, and apps, it emphasises an urgent need for brands to tap into the transformative power of generative AI (gen AI) to reduce the ‘noise’ around decision-making and increase engagement, loyalty, and sales.

The research also found that most people (67%) in India see no improvement or even see an increase in the time and effort required to make a purchase decision. This is comprised of the 40% who think it has got harder, and 28% who see no change. 33% think it takes less time and effort.

Looking across categories, the research also points to the challenges that consumers experience when trying to make purchase decisions. These are not confined to big ticket items. For example, buying snacks is harder than buying the rest of the weekly grocery; buying a moisturiser is on par with buying a washing machine; choosing to buy probiotics is easier than selecting a loan and buying any type of beverage is as challenging as booking travel.

 Vineet R Ahuja, MD, lead – Strategy and Consulting, Accenture India said, “Our survey shows that Indian shoppers are experiencing greater ‘decision stress’ at every stage of the buying journey. Consumer-facing companies will need to rethink how products and services are branded and marketed, making it easier for shoppers to navigate through the noise and make confident purchase decisions. With new technologies such as generative AI, there’s a huge opportunity to not only become data-powered but also delightfully human in a way that has just not been possible until now.”

 Reinvention in the age of generative AI: The report states that the empowerment of consumers through generative AI, other technologies and new ways of working will shift how people think about brands. Companies can make fundamental shifts across discovery, conversion and loyalty to reinvent decision making process and the relationships they have with consumers and the role they play in their lives. Early mover advantage will be especially important for consumer-facing companies intent on capturing value from gen AI across all parts of the business quickly, and at scale.

 Amneet Singh, MD, lead – Products, Accenture India said, “Overall, the use of generative AI and AI-powered advisors in retail and consumer goods can enable companies to better understand their customers, deliver relevant and engaging experiences, and drive business growth. In fact, it offers an opportunity to capture the entire purchasing journey, from inspiration to ideation to transaction, as part of a single, seamless, natural conversation.”

According to the report, consumers themselves are increasingly seeking ways to lighten the workload and are starting to see how gen AI might take on some of the leg work. Accenture’s observation, based on conversations with executives across industries, is that consumers are on track to adopt generative AI-powered advisors rapidly and at scale over the next two years. Indeed, a majority (82%) of survey respondents in India said they’re open to using conversational generative AI solutions for advice, support, guidance, recommendations, queries, among others while shopping.

The report also emphasises the importance of looking at the core operational processes holistically and using generative AI to unlock value at scale. For example, innovative travel companies are examining how reinventing the booking process can act as a catalyst for unlocking value across the entire travel experience.

Deepening relationships with consumers: Getting the brilliant basics right remains table stakes when it comes to delivering shopping experiences that keep consumers coming back. The survey found that while eight in 10 (79%) of consumers in India find some part of the shopping experience fun or exciting, 74% felt frustrated and disappointed the product they want to buy is out of stock. There is an opportunity for companies to use generative AI tools and assistants to enhance the value exchange with consumers, and in the process, close the trust gap and cultivate loyalty.

 

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