Data and AI Are Transforming the Customer Experience in Retail Stores and Online. Here’s How

Create retail customer experiences that build brand love and increase efficiency.

6 min read

What do retailers known for excellent customer experiences have in common? They keep shoppers coming back for more.

But today, understanding and delivering at every touchpoint across the retail customer experience is more complicated than ever. Shoppers engage with their favorite retailers on apps, in stores and pop-up shops, online, over the phone, and more. And as customer expectations continue to rise, the pressure to win wallet share grows more intense every year.


71% of consumers switched brands at least once since 2021, citing better deals, product quality, and customer service.

So, what’s your next move? Cultivate loyalty by putting data and AI at the heart of your retail customer experience. Here, we share tips, tools, and strategies that will help you build brand love with your customers and efficiency in your operations.

Take loyalty from predictable
to personal.

Learn how to use data and AI to turn casual consumers into loyal shoppers with a loyalty experience that’s relevant, efficient and profitable.

What is retail customer experience?

We all know the retail customer experience is how shoppers interact with your associates, brand, and products before, during, and after purchase. But today, your customers are omnichannel shoppers who want to browse, buy, and communicate from anywhere. In fact, our latest research shows that customers use an average of eight channels to discover products, ask questions, and complete transactions.

What is the difference between customer experience and customer service?

Customer service is just one part of the full customer experience. Customer experience includes your marketing assets, store design, app and website functionality and navigation, and live and online service interactions. Customer service, on the other hand, is just one part of the customer experience. Any time a store associate, live agent, or chatbot answers a question, locates a product, rings up a transaction, handles a buy-online-pickup-in-store purchase, or solves a problem, that’s service.

Why is the retail customer experience so important?

The retail customer experience is important for two simple reasons. First, excellent customer experiences drive repeat business. Second, it only takes three bad experiences to turn off customers, leading them to ditch a retailer and never return. In this ultra-competitive market, it’s never been more important to attract and satisfy shoppers no matter where or how they choose to engage.

How to improve your retail customer experience

To improve your retail customer experience, make it easy for customers to discover products, ask questions, complete transactions, schedule deliveries, solve problems, and exchange or return purchases. Here’s where AI is already changing retail customer experiences for the better: With AI, you can amplify the impact of your marketing, commerce, and service toolkits and deliver the attentive, personalized interactions your customers expect — in stores, online, on mobile, and everywhere in between.

To create a consistent customer journey across touchpoints and make the most 
of AI-powered opportunities:

Upgrade and modernize your technology

To maximize AI’s capabilities, unite data from marketing, commerce, and service on one shared platform. AI tools, when integrated in your workflows, improve and accelerate time to insights, support data-driven decision-making, and nurture consistent customer journeys.

In marketing, AI will help you find target audiences, draft personalized marketing messages, optimize campaign offers, and iterate on the results faster. Commerce pros will appreciate the higher conversion rates that result from personalized product recommendations and intelligent post-purchase experiences for customers. Store reps, when equipped with the right tools, will be able to provide efficient service faster. And in service, AI can power next-generation chatbots and virtual assistants, answering customer questions and completing transactions with more relevance and speed than ever before.

Create a consistent customer journey in real time

Connecting digital and physical experiences in real time helps you deliver seamless interactions that are transparent, efficient, and intelligent, no matter how a customer chooses to engage. It’s also cost-effective: Salesforce data shows retailers that use a unified platform see a 29% decrease in service and support costs.

The right technology unifies your online and in-store experiences, merges your data sources, and enables AI-based capabilities that increase efficiency and drive profitable growth. This allows you to:

  • Recognize customers when they interact with your brand, enabling you to tailor experiences to your customers’ needs and preferences
  • Ensure store associates can pick up communications at the same place digital encounters leave off — and vice versa
  • Connect digital and real-world paths-to-purchase, like enabling QR codes, opening store layout maps, and making purchases from displays
  • Give in-store associates the visibility they need to serve customers from
discovery to fulfillment
  • Acquire and engage loyal customers with personalized interactions based on zero- and first-party data

Deliver hyper-personalization

Data, AI, and predictive analytics will help you segment and target the right audiences with highly relevant, customized experiences. Intelligent, data-driven insights that streamline and personalize customer interactions improve shopper experiences and increase marketing spend efficiency, because you’ll be able to target the right customers with the right offers in the right moments.

Although retailers already use segmentation to attract customers, hyper-personalization takes this further, by using broader market trends, past interactions, and third-party data to find and take action on even deeper insights. For example, anticipate shoppers’ needs and tailor interactions by texting a discount offer for a product saved to their wish list.

Use your loyalty program to offer unique online and in-store experiences

Today’s shoppers expect more than basic rewards-for-transactions strategies. Consider building a loyal community of brand evangelists by offering perks like complimentary shipping, exclusive discounts, and early access to events and new products so your members feel truly special.

Deliver personalized customer service everywhere

Delivering excellent customer service has never been more important:

80% of consumers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products.

To deliver excellent service, communicate with your customers on their channels of choice, like social media, text, and chat. Use AI to power next-generation chatbot and virtual assistant tools so customers can do things like generate a return on their own (without having to ask for help from a live agent). Don’t overlook the telephone, though — 81% of service professionals say voice is the preferred choice for complicated customer cases. AI helps you here, too: Automatically generated call summaries ensure agents can review cases and answer questions faster than ever before.

Are you ready to build your new retail experience?

What’s the big takeaway for retailers looking to evolve their retail experience? Focus on delivering consistent and personalized interactions by putting the customer at the center of every decision you make. By connecting customer data from across your organization and applying AI and analytics to generate real-time insights, you’ll surface the next-best actions that will keep customers coming back for more.

Customer Story

Rossignol brings the magic of the mountains to more people with AI


The Eighth Edition of the State of Marketing Report


More Resources

From Predictable to Personalized: Rethinking the Loyalty Experience
Drive success now with real-time moments for every customer.
The Connected Shoppers Report

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.