By Kayla Broussard, CTO of Retail and Travel at Kyndryl

Even as the retail industry continues to weather economic volatility, one thing remains certain: customer loyalty matters more than ever.

According to Gartner, retailers will continue to invest in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) services that help them to better engage with customers, both in-store and online. Modern shoppers will also continue to demand seamless, connected experiences that bridge the physical and digital worlds — they want personalized shopping experiences from any device, anywhere, at any time. This means getting “phygital” right could prove to be a valuable differentiator for e-commerce and for retailers that are looking to enhance the cost-conscious customers' shopping experiences.

As consumers move between devices and physical touchpoints in the quest for convenience and value, they generate vast amounts of data. However, that customer data is often scattered across platforms and corporate departments. That’s why unifying data is critical. It allows retailers to create personalized and meaningful consumer interactions, and reach them with useful experiences.

Five ways retailers can protect and unlock the full potential of data
1. Enhance personalization with AI

There’s more to AI than visually stimulating solutions like AI smart mirrors and complete-the-look recommendations. Interestingly, AI empowers retail employees with access to information at their fingertips, which can deepen relationships with customers and improve sales. Additionally, generative AI can boost productivity — for instance, a virtual assistant with real-time order information can provide tailored responses to each customer’s inquiry.

2. Combat app fatigue

Many of today’s consumers use mobile devices in-store to shop, read reviews, check loyalty points, look for coupons or compare prices. By incorporating location awareness capabilities, retailers can transform their apps from an informational resource to an active and integral part of the shopping experience. Understanding real-time shopping behaviors gives retailers the opportunity to provide truly relevant information and create meaningful connections with customers.

3. Improve warehouse efficiencies

After a busy holiday shopping season, retailers are far from done. In January, retailers must be prepared for post-holiday returns — and that calls for advanced predictive warehouse management solutions. As the retail sector advances, Intelligent Warehouses are expected to streamline operational efficiencies and help reduce costs through automation and smart devices, such as RFID tags for product tracking and smart glasses for vision picking.

4. Understand influencers and creator networks

Creator networks are expanding rapidly and serve as a valuable source of third-party data. By leveraging influencers and creator networks, retailers can glean interesting insights on how their products are being perceived and used by different demographic groups, adjusting advertising and marketing accordingly.

5. Invest in cybersecurity

Customer data management is crucial to retail success but merchants will need to take steps to prevent data leakage, which could expose protected information to unauthorized users. Investing in a sound cybersecurity strategy can help retailers avoid the serious consequences of data leakage, including financial loss, operational disruptions, fraud and severe brand damage. Cyber criminals have more digital and physical attack points than ever before — and as retailers collect vast amounts of data, appropriate guardrails will need to be put in place from the start.

Achieving a 360-degree view of the customer will require retailers to harness — and protect — data as they adopt emerging technology, including generative AI, to drive innovation and productivity.

Attending NRF? Experience Kyndryl’s booth (#744) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. On Jan. 15 at 3 p.m., be sure to attend “Drive Enhanced Customer Experiences with the Power of Data,” hosted by Kyndryl’s Kayla Broussard, and GPA Director of Strategy & CX, Ana Carolina Rosa.

Kayla Broussard

CTO of Retail and Travel at Kyndryl