Watching the Siri ad, I realized that we now have an added dimension to the trend of "Merged Reality of Retailing", a trend that I have been deliberating over for several years now. The inspiration for this trend came to me with my increasing awareness of the new reality we are creating; a reality where the physical & digital environments are increasingly interwoven in our lives: a merged reality that transforms the way we view and interact with the world – with our senses.
Several technologies are enabling this trend and we are finally seeing more of this sensory involvement being adopted by retailers. This adoption will increase with time, not just because this reality affects all spheres of our lives, but also because these sensory involvements shape the customer experience – a differentiator and a key focus area for retailers going forward.
With the latest addition of speech recognition to our daily lives (that’s what I expect Siri to do) – retailers will increasingly look at ways to merge into our realities through experiences that involve our senses to a greater extent.
1. Speech – Interacting with the world like never before
Although by conventional definition, the sense in question should be "sound" - I find its close relative "speech" more appropriate for now.
The beauty of Siri is not just speech recognition, but the artificial intelligence that it is married to. The advantage of using speech over other physical-digital interaction paradigms is that it is inherently natural and we have mastered its use over thousands of years. By positioning Siri as a personal assistant whom you can talk to - one would be able to find information faster, easier, and more importantly of better quality for it would be personalized and contextual. Now imagine, if retailers have a similar technology deployed at their customer touch points –that would make customer engagement intimate and revolutionary. That day isn’t far away.
Tech Enablers – Speech recognition + Artificial intelligence
Examples (Potential use cases) – Expect customers asking
- At the store – "Is there a better price nearby?", "Is this compatible with the camera I bought last year?"
- At home – "Will this cleanser ruin my marble counters?", "Does this snack have too much salt for me?"
- With a retailer (e.g. kiosk) – "Which lane has the shortest queue?", "Do you think this phone suits me lifestyle?"
Other areas of sensory involvement that are changing retailing include:
- Touch – Feeling the world in a new way
- Sight - Seeing the world through a new set of eyes
- Taste & Smell
In the next post I will elaborate on these and also on how retailers should embrace this trend of merged reality of retailing.
What do you think are the other tech enablers or interesting examples that will and are changing the realities of retail as we know it, because of speech recognition?