TechTarget recently published an article saying the use of micro apps, which are used to hone in on one task, has become a good workaround for this problem and a “simple way to add sophisticated features.” People no longer have to find an app, take time to download it (hopefully quickly and without fail), and then set it up ready to use it. They can use a micro app that doesn’t need downloading or setting up. It lets them carry out a task there and then on their phone.
But the author notes micro apps “have their weaknesses” too. “The downside is their focus and embedded nature, which doesn’t do much for customer retention, since they are not specific destinations that customers are likely to continue accessing purposefully. Micro apps are best used in limited capacities, such as one-off marketing campaigns.”
Apple’s App Clips are similarly designed to “help people focus on finishing one task quickly,” and they do. Instead of launching an app, people can use their iPhone to get straight to the one thing they need to do right now using just a URL.
In much the same way, AI assistants on any device can use URLs to generate QR codes, which get shoppers straight to the content that matters to them there and then. Most importantly, at the exact moment they might decide to visit a store on or offline to make (or not make) a purchase. Scan a QR code and an advanced AI assistant can show you content instantly, wherever you are, that:
• Reveals a discount code or offer
• Shows a video about a product
• Shows a store location on a map
• Guides you through a cashless payment
• Arranges delivery of an item
AI assistants are the bridge between real-world physical equipment and instant digital services
Right now, retail is still a hybrid of high street shopping and online purchasing.
The Office for National Statistics says, “In May 2022, seasonally adjusted internet sales accounted for 26.6% of all official retail sales,“ compared with almost 7% less in February 2020. “Although online shopping has been a growing behaviour over several years, the pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend,” it says. “In recent months, we have started shifting back towards shopping in-store, although spending online remains high.”
This hybrid, yo-yo existence might be a lot for retailers to contend with, but an AI assistant means retailers can keep their in-store promotions active and link up with everything else that forms part of a visit to a bricks-and-mortar store too. Like using a QR code at parking meters outside, so there’s no faff for customers to pay or having to touch a germ-ridden display to do it. With “potentially dangerous bacteria” being found on touch screens in grocery stores and pretty much everywhere else they exist, an AI assistant can help provide a defence against real-world problems. Customers can easily sort out car parking from their own phone to make sure the visit is pleasurable, not a pain.
Get to know your customers and the products or services they need
As well as making shopping easier and more enjoyable, AI assistants help to form strong bonds with customers. With all the information they need from you at their fingertips and instant answers to any sales queries available 24/7, people are more likely to stay loyal to your brand. And the more people return to your store, the more you get to know what they like, and you can use your AI assistant to upsell or cross-sell, to keep on giving them an exceptional retail experience. With you, not your competitor.