The retail industry is no stranger to the idea of personalisation, but in the face of proliferating channels and products to choose from, customers are facing a crisis of decision fatigue.


The byline was originally published on Retail World by Michelle Newton, Head of Cultural Forecasting, Fiftyfive5 part of Accenture Song.


According to Accenture’s Empowered Consumer Report 2024, 74 per cent of surveyed consumers said that in the final three months of 2023 they had abandoned purchases due to feeling overwhelmed, indicating that personalisation attempts are falling short.

Despite companies’ increasing focus on customer-centricity and personalised experiences over the past few years, 71 per cent of those surveyed said they’d seen no improvement in the time and effort required to make a purchase decision. Consumers are finding the retail landscape increasingly complex, and retailers must work to simplify their offering, or else risk alienating their customers.

That being said, the rise of generative AI presents an opportunity for retailers to eradicate decision fatigue and take personalisation to the next level. The industry is rapidly racing to a point where new technology allows retailers to target customers beyond just demographic categories, and build a more complex profile to predict mood and interest segmentation. Through this, retailers can begin to deliver infinite individualism for their customers.


The need for infinite individualism

The infinite individualism trend clearly indicates strong demand for its delivery, as consumers seek to alleviate the mental burden of search and recommendations. They’re increasingly open to AI handling their purchases, and ensuring accuracy in this process could secure their brand loyalty. Beyond delivering clarity and instilling consumer confidence in retail, AI can transform mundane transactions and create enjoyable experiences, adding an element of fun to the customer experience (CX) journey.

According to the report, 75 per cent of surveyed consumers wish they could identify options that meet their needs more quickly and easily, while, on average, 55 per cent are open to using generative AI agents to purchase on their behalf. However, in contrast, 85 per cent emphasise the importance of personal data protection when using conversational AI tools. This highlights that the behaviour among consumers is split, as they value convenience but remain cautious regarding privacy concerns.

To alleviate decision fatigue and deliver to the infinite individualism, retailers need to tap into the trends – home as retail, augmented loyalty, EQ retail and ‘shop anon’ – offering ways for brands to get ahead of consumer needs.


Home as retail

It doesn’t get more personal than one’s own home. Why should consumers go to retailers when retail can now come to the home? This trend turns living spaces into retail platforms for real-time shopping guidance and automated monitoring of products and services.

Due to the rapid growth in e-commerce platforms, direct-to-consumer brands and subscription services, people are increasingly finding themselves shopping from home. Teaming this with AI has the ability to remove complexity, helping consumers make comparisons around the metrics that matter to them.

Taken one step further is the ability of machine-to-machine economy, where devices communicate and make transactions without human intervention. This in turn can reduce the need for decision-making altogether. For example, a US retail giant has recently begun offering an AI powered in-home replenishment service that automatically orders groceries that customers may have run out of, and delivers into the home fridge.


Augmented loyalty

This emerging trend is reshaping how retailers engage with customers, combining the power of AI with human design. Through AI-driven loyalty programs, retailers can tailor experiences to individual customers, recognising that no two customers are the same.

By understanding both the explicit and implicit needs of consumers, companies can surprise them with options they might not have expected, leading to a journey of discovery. For instance, a global beauty company recently launched an AI powered adviser that analyses consumers’ skin to recommend specific products, using discovery and personalisation as an engagement tool.

The report data supports this approach as it found that 76 per cent of respondents who experience joy while shopping are more inclined to recommend a brand to others, highlighting the potential long-term benefits of augmented loyalty initiatives.


EQ retail

The power of AI in retail is the ability to understand emotion and mood response in real time. The EQ retail trend represents an understanding that emotional associations powerfully shape our actions, generating positive customer experiences, leading to strong brand differentiation, and ultimately brand reputation. For example, a French luxury fashion house has launched its first fragrance flagship store in Singapore with tech-enhanced services to tie personal memories to in-store experiences.

With the lure of AI and tech-enabled personalised shopping experiences, the push and pull of tech creates new risks for both shoppers and retailers. The data privacy trade-off discussion is reignited as technology in retail creates infinite possibilities for real-time and uniquely ‘yours’ retail experiences.


Shop anon

Consumers increasingly understand the trade-off between personalised retail and data exchange some brands are offering to protect these experiences. The shop anon trend considers all the benefits of personalisation without the exposure or the privacy risk. A recent example would be a partnership between a luxury lingerie brand and a 3D scanning software platform to provide an anonymised AI service to sell better-fitting lingerie in-store.

The power of AI lies in its ability to amplify the concept of infinite individualism, transforming the retail journey from complexity to clarity. By recognising customers as unique individuals, retailers can maximise the full potential of generative AI to tailor completely personalised and positive retail experiences.

Infinite individualism trends present an opportunity for retailers to elevate loyalty with new services that extend from the home to the entire CX journey. As retailers embrace the potential of AI to deliver infinite individualism, they can establish deeper connections with customers and navigate the complexities of the modern retail landscape.