Buying and shopping diverge
Buying will be boring, at least for the consumer. The voice-activated assistants that sit on a growing number of kitchen counters will evolve into super-intelligent concierge services and smart-home systems. Connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), our Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform of choice will serve as an access point to new buying ecosystems.
We’ll increasingly trust AI to complete many of life’s more ordinary purchases, especially for the consumer products we use every day. Our bot will curate choices for us and buy on our behalf, if we give it that permission and access to our data. It will evaluate what products or services we need, when we need them and where best to buy them – not just in terms of finding the right price, but also in terms of sourcing brands and suppliers that align with our values.
As adoption spreads, the rise of AI-buying will disintermediate transactions, payments, fulfillment and brands, commoditizing many areas of retail as we know it. The more relationships in the AI ecosystem, the more transactions processed, the more data gathered and analyzed, the smarter these platforms will become.
AI will predict our preferences
AI bots will predict or preempt our behavior in ways we value. They will become an indispensable part of how we live.
AI interactions will extend beyond the consumer-to-brand relationship; they will include our connections to the trusted AI’s of friends, family members and other associates; and between brands and other brands, and every participating organization in their respective value chains.
Over time, consumer engagement will polarize. We’ll become disengaged from most of the products and services we buy. Brands will need to ensure clear differentiation or risk becoming commoditized as a result. But we will also become super-engaged with those brands that capture our hearts and minds. This won’t be limited to luxury or expensive brands, but will also include brands that we value in different ways, for example, their ethics may resonate with ours or they may give us a sense of the treasure-hunt experience as we search for bargains. These super-engagement brands are the only ones we will actively “shop” for or with, because they help us express and shape our identities.
Future shopping will have to be a highly conscious and experience-led activity, taking place in retail destinations that provide differentiated and relevant goods and services in distinctive virtual or physical spaces. Talent will shift from task focus to offering expertise and experience. Successful retailers will be those producing their own branded goods and services. Most of their profit will come from production and related services, not distribution.