Have you noticed the number of bricks and mortar stores that are continuing to close in your neighborhood? It is a clear sign that the future has arrived. Digital shopping is all the rage and continues to grow. Modern digital technology offers many different methods to enrich the customer’s experience, and it continues to develop new plans at high speed. The question is, what will customer service look like by 2021. 

Digital Assistants Reign, but the Human Touch will Still Prevail 

Most people are familiar with Siri and Cortana. They are examples of digital assistants. They can answer basic questions and help with daily tasks thanks to the continuing development of IoT, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. It is safe to assume that these systems will continue to mature to provide useful advice based on targeted open and closed questioning.

There will be a move towards using more and more digital assistants in brick-and-mortar stores too. One good example of where we are heading is Robot Pepper. Robot Pepper is a physical robot capable of starting a conversation and assisting you in buying products suitable for your specific needs.

Despite the use of more robots to improve customer service, there will still be a unique need for humans, but their role will change. Robots will begin to take ownership of primary customer care, while humans take on more advanced forms of advice that need human communication and human analysis. There are examples of organizations that have given over a large part of their customer care services to automation. Although they can be beneficial, robots are only as good as their programming. Now that is changing with the advent of machine learning and AI. However, there are still many situations requiring a human touch and companies that want to stay on top, providing that human contact will need to remain a priority. 

Highly functioning facilities will become more critical and will be indispensable. These facilities will include self-service portals and active user communities where customers can ask all of their questions.

Redesigning Brick and Mortar Stores

Relevance is crucial for digital businesses, and it will become even more critical for Brick and mortar stores. Technology will be utilized by these stores to create seamless interactions and boost the shopping experience, so it becomes not just a shopping trip but a smooth, sexy customer journey. Imagine visiting a sneaker store. As you pass the store, your mobile device will receive a personalized deal offer based on your previous buying habits. The newest addition to your favorite line of sneakers is available for a 20 percent discount, and its in stock at this store. Once inside, you explain to the digital assistant that you are looking for a sneaker suitable for a novice runner. Some of the shelves light up immediately, displaying the best options.

When you select one of the sneakers, you see a video splashed on a large screen explaining the shoe’s unique features. When you try on the sneakers, a beam project walking exercises on the shop is designed to help you test out some of the unique features. When you look at the sneakers in the mirror, you will see how different colors and other varieties would look on your feet using augmented reality. Shopping will be taken to a whole new level of service and fun!  


Stores and brands will collect even more customer data by 2020. The data will be used to create detailed profiles based on past purchases and data provided by the customer. The Internet of Things will also provide valuable information about consumer behavior patterns. Products will be equipped with even more sensors, allowing companies to generate knowledge about which features are successful and which are not. 

So how will all of this individual data affect your purchases? Let’s go back to our sneaker store example. In the sneaker store, you can get measurements about your walking pattern, soles, and weight. Based on that data, you would be able to obtain advice on the footwear that best suits your needs, both in the physical store and online. Unknown to you, the account of the sneaker store is linked to a fitness platform, and now your fitness level becomes part of your customer record. It is essential to understand that you, the customer, will still control the details you wish to share. It should be noted that privacy will remain an important topic in 2020, and if you want your business to remain successful, your company will respect the concept of privacy.

Smartphone as a Powerful ‘Second Screen’

The smartphone will become an even more useful tool for retailers. Retailers will use mobile devices to provide more productive, more immersive customer experiences in brick-and-mortar stores. Customers will receive more product content by scanning a label and find product reviews, information on related products, personalized advice, and pricing history when linked with independent online comparison tools.

Supermarkets will also see benefits from smartphone use. Customers will create shopping lists at home, and the app will be able to display the right picking order based on the layout of the store. It will also provide alternatives if a shelf item is unavailable and advice for additional products.

Virtual reality offers a new Home Shopping Experience

The digital setting will also provide a unique feature. The store layout and inventory will be fully customizable to each customer’s preferences and habits.

Another critical advancement will be virtual reality headsets. Consumers are using them for home shopping sessions. You will be able to walk through the virtual store from the comfort of your couch. Retailers will have all the traditional advantages of brick-and-mortar stores in an online setting, such as having the ability to steer impulse buying and strategic product placement.

The Customer will be Central to the Product Lifecycle

Currently, the customer is usually located at the end of the product’s lifecycle. But the end of 2020 the customer will be actively involved in product design or choice invariants of a product. Producers will be able to better capitalize on customer creativity and wisdom. That means that the products they develop will be sure to meet target audience requirements. The customer and brand will be even more intricately intertwined than ever before. 

Every year will bring greater personalization and bring the customer ever closer to the brand. Brands will deliver higher levels of service and delivery thanks to the IoT, AI, and machine learning. 

Jul 16 20
Christina Zumwalt
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