How Generative AI Can Help Overcome Information Overload in Online Shopping

Shoppers are suffering from information overload, according to new research from Accenture that taps the consumer mindset. The authors of the report said consumers are overwhelmed by too many choices and too much marketing. As a result, many are abandoning their online shopping cart.

But there is a solution.

“Amid competing claims, messages, advertising, choices, recommendations, algorithms and apps, [the report] emphasizes an urgent need for brands to tap into the transformative power of generative AI to reduce the ‘noise’ around decision-making and increase engagement, loyalty and sales,” Accenture said, adding that retailers and brands could win customers and drive sales using generative AI “to improve the entire purchasing journey.”

Accenture tapped 19,000 consumers in 12 countries to cull insights for the report. The researchers at the firm found that 73 percent of those polled feel inundated by too many choices while 75 percent said they’re swamped by marketing. As a result, 74 percent of those polled have abandoned purchases in the past three months.

There’s more gloomy news. The survey showed that 71 percent of shoppers “see no improvement or even see an increase in the time and effort required to make a purchase decision,” the report’s authors said, adding that this figure is comprised “of the 41 percent who think it has got harder, and 30 percent who see no change.” Twenty-nine percent of those polled think “it takes less time and effort.”

It doesn’t matter what category is being shopped. The challenges “are not confined to big-ticket items,” Accenture said, adding that consumers “feel less confident about booking a hotel than buying a car; booking a flight is nearly as nerve-wracking as getting a mortgage, and choosing a moisturizer is on par with buying a washing machine.”

Accenture said generative AI helps with many of these issues — especially pain points that trigger cart abandonment. For example, while 62 percent of respondents had found some part of their shopping experience fun or even exciting, 63 percent said they “felt frustrated and disappointed the product they want to buy is out of stock.”

Jill Standish, senior managing director and global lead for Accenture’s Retail practice, said for retailers, generative AI “provides the opportunity to keep the consumer within their branded experience by linking product recommendations to inventory that’s in-stock and ready to be added to the shopping cart, not to mention the opportunity to get more insight into their existing customer base for loyalty programs and upselling opportunities.”

And when it comes to inspiration and product discovery, Standish said that consumers “are hard-wired for more natural, conversational, human-to-human interactions. GenAI offers a chance to capture the entire purchasing journey, from inspiration to ideation to transaction, as part of a single, seamless, natural conversation.”


Jill Standish

Courtesy image.

For retailers and brands that have yet to make the investment in generative AI, the clock is ticking. The authors of the report said there’s an opportunity to make fundamental shifts “across discovery, conversion and loyalty to reinvent the decision-making process and the relationships they have with consumers and the role they play in their lives.” But companies must act now. Accenture said those who have invested in AI will have “early mover advantage” and will be “especially important for consumer-facing companies intent on capturing value from GenAI across all parts of the business quickly, and at scale.”

Not too far from now, investing in generative AI will not be a choice.

Oliver Wright, senior managing director and global lead for Accenture’s Consumer Goods and Services industry practice, said, “We expect that in the next three years, the adoption of these GenAI technologies by consumers will bring the most significant reconsideration of what and how they decide to purchase that we have seen in decades. Why? Because consumers are telling us they will use conversational GenAI solutions to help them research and buy products and experiences, and these tools will cut through the traditional sales and marketing messaging that, to date, has been the dominant shaper of consumption.”

Wright said this will likely be “the biggest opportunity to gain or lose market share that consumer companies have seen in recent memory.” In the research, 51 percent of those surveyed said they were open to using conversational AI solutions.

 “GenAI has the potential to deliver the hyper-relevant recommendations to consumers in the moment, whether it is the sandwich that meets their dietary needs, the family meal that fits their weekly budget, or the personalized skin care that really meets their needs,” Wright added.

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