Digital humans for retail

Powered by artificial intelligence, digital humans are creating personalized, scalable, omnichannel retail experiences.

Whether it’s in-store or online, digital humans make retail about interactions, not just transactions, creating memorable customer experiences that keep people engaged with your brand.

Learn how these leading retail brands are using UneeQ to improve their CX

What makes us UneeQ

Retail used to be exclusively personal. As a shopper, you would get personalized advice, guidance and support from a retail assistant. The rise of eCommerce changed the retail industry largely for the better, but it’s also stripped away a lot of the personal customer experiences people used to get.

Instead, retail chatbots, virtual assistants and other automated tools have been tasked with offering digitally what real people excel at in real life – building a connection while solving a problem. It doesn’t work. But what if customers could have the personal touch and a convenient online experience at once?

With conversational AI in digital humans, there’s now a way for retailers to bridge this divide. Digital humans can meet with customers online or on their device. They can hold real conversations, guide shoppers to a product and even take payment – all while putting a brand-embodied human experience front and center.

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Utilize the power of human connection. Connect with your customers in a way that builds engagement, loyalty and memorable shopping experiences with your brand.

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Create online interactions, not just transactions. Instead of making shoppers find their own answers, keep them engaged with AI-powered conversations.

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Level up your retail chatbot. Your chatbot can still have text-based conversations as usual, but your customers now have a real-time “face-to-face” human channel, too.

Digital humans working in retail today

Nola | An omnichannel AI concierge

Both in-store and online, Nola provides a friendly face for Noel Leeming’s flagship store.

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Stella | Singtel’s 5G-powered specialist

Stella is a product genius as well as an expert conversationalist, available whenever you need her.

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Vodafone | Doing more with AI

Vodafone’s digital human helps people top-up their phones, so real staff can focus on more valuable tasks.

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Make digital shopping more personal

Digital humans are the only solution that combines the engagement of a human with the scalability and lower cost to serve that comes with digital.

Put your brand personality front and center

You strive to hire people who best represent your brand to your customers. With a digital human, you can design these personas from the ground up.

Go beyond a faceless retail chatbot

Give your retail chatbot or other conversational AI a major upgrade. Integrate your back-end databases to make your digital human into a true product genius.

Scale customer experience when needed

Your digital human is available 24/7, and can scale infinitely to speak to and help as many customers as necessary.

  • Noel Leeming is known as leaders in innovation and technology and to be pushing the boundaries of how technology can create amazing customer experiences using Nola is a fantastic step for us.
    NOEL LEEMING
    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
  • “UneeQ's digital humans are capable of continuously learning how to anticipate our customers' needs and better serve them.”
    VODAFONE
    DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER OPERATIONS

A HISTORY OF RETAIL TECHNOLOGY: HOW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE ENTERED THE DIGITAL AGE

The age-old retail industry stretches back as far as civilization does. But while millennia of people experienced shopping as an interaction between people – real people – technology has allowed that to be sacrificed for pure convenience.

1930s

Convenience comes first: From “everything under one roof” shopping malls and department stores, to the extended opening hours of 7-Eleven, the ‘30s saw a big shift towards customer convenience. Still, it was retail workers who made this kind of shopping possible.

1950s

Electronic cash register: Machines (even rudimentary ones) have long been helping retail workers do more with their time. The cash register is one example of that, as well as the bar code reader in the ‘70s.

1960s

Credit cards: The first universal credit card brought more convenience to the shopping experience. Customers could transact faster. They still went into a store and spoke to a human. That was until…

1990s

Enter eCommerce: We begin to see online shopping enter the equation, providing a glimpse of the future of retail.

2010s

Apps, apps, apps: There’s an app for that. Major retailers begin to use their own mobile apps to own the shopping experience, putting their brand front and centre of the shopping experience, but putting human touch last.

2010s

Social media: The biggest social media platforms in the world became endless virtual shopping malls, allowing users to buy products without visiting a store, app or even a website of the brands they love.

2010s

eCommerce explodes: The 2010s also saw triple-digit growth in eCommerce sales. The biggest retailers are now tech companies. Bricks and mortar becomes more “boutique”. Human connection in retail reaches its lowest point.

2020s

The age of conversational commerce: The most recent decade sees some of that human connection placed back into retail. Virtual assistants offer some character in conversational online shopping, while the growth of artificial intelligence in digital humans recreate interactions (not just transactions) as an ingredient of the modern shopping experience.

BRINGING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE BACK TO RETAIL | DIGITAL HUMANS, CHATBOTS AND CONVERSATIONAL AI​

Artificial intelligence (AI) is stirring up exciting changes in retail. By creating human-like interactions at scale, digital humans are leading the charge in improving brand and customer experiences, beyond what retail chatbots can offer alone.

The great Maya Angelou said: “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And while we’re not going to pretend she was talking about shopping at her favorite store, or browsing online for a new car, she does hit upon a universal truth.

Actions speak louder than words, yes; but emotional connections speak loudest of all.

Let us ask you, which part of that famous quote is absent when we look at the way the world of retail exists today? People. Three of those empowering 22 words are “people”. And yet the average shopper today has to go far out of their way to speak to a person – someone who can make them feel heard, seen and valued.

These customers’ options? Take a trip to a store, where they can get guidance, advice and help should they need it. To speak with someone, be greeted with a smile and interact with the brands they enjoy. Or, as is more likely today, to go online and do everything themselves.

What used to be an industry driven by conversation and interaction is now all about lifeless convenience and transactions. But we think there’s a middle ground.

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    Conversational commerce: AI with a human face

    The human face is a powerful tool. In its simplest form, it’s the most time-tested interface that’s ever existed. The vast majority of people know how to use it to have a conversation, using speech and non-verbal cues. Digital humans are no different, using their voice, tone and facial expressions to convey a range of emotions that prove to be essential to real interactions.

    In its more complex form, speaking with someone face to face empowers interpersonal trust, emotional connection, and the feeling of being valued. Digital humans don’t pretend to be human; yet studies show people are more than willing to form real connections with machines, especially when the machines show a little humanity in return.

    That being said, digital humans (or any technology for that matter) will not replace the human touch. Rather it allows retail brands to scale it as necessary. Conversational AI in this way adds to the decades’ long drive towards making retail more convenient, but also puts back a dash of the human shopping experience that’s been lost.

    Your conversational AI can handle the routine experiences, your staff are more available to those who need hands-on help; and yet at every touchpoint, there’s the face of the retailer’s brand providing support across any channel.

    Building better customer experience (CX) in the retail industry with AI

    Great customer experiences lead to shoppers spending 140% more, having 33% lower cost-to-serve and remaining customers for an average five years longer, according to Deloitte.

    What makes a great customer experience in retail? Well, the votes are in and people know exactly what they like and don’t like.

    For one, the boom in online shopping has left consumers forced to serve their own needs and find their own products or services through eCommerce websites or apps. Put bluntly, self-service is an experience that wouldn’t work if people had an alternative.

    Because of self-service, 50% of online purchases are lost because consumers can’t find what they’re looking for, research from Forrester shows. If an in-store shopper couldn’t find what they wanted, they’d simply ask for help. At which point the store assistant would guide them to the product or something similar they might like. In eCommerce environments, that option doesn’t exist because a conversation has never started. 

    Conversational AI in retail chatbots, virtual assistants and digital humans open that dialogue again.

    Other CX opportunities exist too. Accenture found that almost half of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve their CX is to better integrate their in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. But how can they provide this seamless omnichannel retail experience – a Holy Grail for many stores?

    Part of the solution will require retailers to focus on making seamless, consistent and consistently excellent touchpoints across their customer journeys. In less jargony words, make shopping in store, on website, via an app or through social media feel like the same excellent experience. Without harping on this, that’s simply not possible when the human experience is only available through one of those touchpoints.

    And lastly, a great customer experience is personal. Almost all marketers say personalization helps improve their customer relationships, according to Evergage. Overall, 89% of them have delivered better customer experiences, 61% have seen an increase in consumer loyalty and 59% note a measurable lift in return on investment (ROI).

    Personalization of eCommerce, then, should be a priority for any retailer with CX in mind. That means knowing the customer, perhaps even using their name, solving their specific problems, and showing empathy and warmth through real-time communication and interaction. All of these things are possible from an in-person and digital human AI solution. In fact, they’re the only two means of delivering a truly personalized shopping experience today.

    Retail chatbots are just a part of the conversational commerce equation

    So, the answer is automated digital retail solutions, like chatbots – right? Well, in part. Retail chatbots are a great channel. GGS research found that 29% of people prefer to turn to chat to get their quick and non-complex questions answered digitally. That’s potentially a lot of simple questions being routed away from a retail brand’s exceptional staff, automating it so these real people can focus on more valuable work.

    But chatbot fatigue is an issue. The same research found that 71% of consumers are unlikely to use a brand if there was no option of human support available. Meanwhile, PwC found that 82% of people prefer the human touch with brands, especially as automation continues to grow. 

    Digital humans are the bridge between the automated retail chatbots and virtual assistants we see expanding into the market, and the human staff that customers love in the retail experience.

Other industries we work with

Right now, UneeQ digital humans are working in healthcare, banking, insurance, education and telco to name just a few. Everything from their unique appearance to their personalities are being co-designed to create the most positive, lasting impact on users.

Banking & finance

Digital humans are helping banking and financial services organizations scale, all while putting amazing customer experiences front and center.

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Healthcare

From improving literacy and accessibility to easing the burden on front-line staff, digital humans educate and inform, while combining the best of in-person and digital care.

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Telco

Conversational AI-powered digital humans are making waves in the telco industry, putting memorable interactions (not just transactions) at the center of the customer experience.

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Digital humans in retail: A solution for today’s brands, not just tomorrow’s

Digital humans exist in retail today. They’re offering superior customer experiences in a digital world, helping to finally put back some of the human touch that’s been stripped away from online and mobile shopping.

UneeQ digital humans are employed all over the world, for brands (big and small) who want to put more humanity into their shopping experiences, physically and online.

And our form of conversational AI couldn’t be simpler for retailers wanting to take the first step. In fact, if you already have a retail chatbot, you’re well on your way to employing your first digital human.

Keen to know more about the future of retail with AI-powered digital humans? We’d love to chat.