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Using AI for Awareness & Influence within the Retail Customer Journey

Full report: The impact of AI on the UK retail industry

Using AI for Awareness & Influence within the Retail Customer Journey

How Artificial Intelligence is used to increase awareness and influence in the retail customer journey

Awareness is a primary battleground for any consumer brand or retailer in the pursuit of growing sales and profit within the customer journey, but how is AI going to impact this? There are various ways a consumer can become aware of a brand, from TV, to print advertising, to social media, but using big data and emerging machine learning techniques appears to be the next step for optimisation.

From our research, we identify five key stages within the retail customer journey. Stage one is ‘Awareness and Influence’ from consumer and retailer perspectives respectively (as shown in the diagram) . Retailers seeking to gain an advantage in the battle for awareness are turning to AI. Two of the most dominant technologies being used are Personalisation and Product Recommendations.




It is generally accepted that shoppers are more likely to purchase items in-store or online from retailers that send them relevant, personalised promotions and tailored offerings. One such offering is the personalised landing page that only displays selected clothing in the customer’s size and/or preferred brands. Shop Direct’s technology allows 1.2 million versions of its very.co.uk landing page, and Amazon attributes 35% of sales to its personalisation strategies. Our survey found that while shoppers wanted greater personalisation, only 45.3% believed targeted online adverts provided appropriate content to them. Nevertheless, technological advancement will keep personalisation a major tool for retailers. The key thing to focus on is to make sure it is effective and maintains shopper’s trust.

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This work forms part of a wider piece of research and is a downloadable in pdf format


Product recommendations 

The automated suggestion of products is one of the most recognised uses of AI, and it varies in sophistication, with algorithms correlating disparate data such as purchasing habits, images viewed, social media content, location or weather in real time. Retailers can already suggest holiday items for shoppers who recently booked an airline ticket. Adding biometric data to the mix will allow retailers to identify customers as they walk into a shop and then personalise their in-store experience.

However, more sophisticated personalisation requires more personal data, and our survey showed that more than half of shoppers would not be comfortable sharing data such as: health, age, body shape and dietary habits, which are required to enable better targeted recommendations.


The influence of multi-channel marketing

For retailers, AI provides influence, and according to a global survey conducted by Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Emarsys), 54% of retail marketers are using AI-driven personalisation across channels to drive business growth, and they have a high degree of confidence in AI’s ability to deliver accurate marketing content. 

60% of businesses trust fully-automated AI-driven marketing campaigns to deliver content to their customers, while only 45% of customers believe that the personalised adverts displayed to them were actually relevant. 

Personalised ads frequently miss the mark

Survey question to consumers: Thinking about online ads (e.g. website banners, ads on news feed); how often do you think they display appropriate products and services to you?


Source: Retail Economics/CMS, 2019


Things to do now

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Found this short article interesting?

This insight article forms part of a thought leadership report entitled “Disruption 2.0 – Here we go again: AI in Consumer and Retail”. It was produced by Retail Economics in partnership with CMS and looks at consumers across all age groups in the UK and explores their attitudes regarding AI technologies they currently interact with, and the cutting-edge applications emerging. To contrast this, the research also includes a business survey of senior leaders from Consumer and Retail organisations, FMCG manufacturers and fashion and luxury brands, to gauge their sentiments towards disruptive technologies and the opportunities and challenges they currently face.

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