Embracing Total Experience: Retail’s GenAI and human-centric revolution | HCLTech

Embracing Total Experience: Retail’s GenAI and human-centric revolution

Office Depot have embraced a Total Experience strategy to deliver personalized and consistent customer journeys
6 minutes read
Nicholas Ismail
Nicholas Ismail
Global Head of Brand Journalism, HCLTech
6 minutes read
Embracing Total Experience: Retail’s GenAI and human-centric revolution

In the rapidly evolving retail industry, delivering exceptional customer, employee and user experiences are key to staying ahead of the competition. With advancements in technology, the increasing use of data and analytics and the rise of generative AI (GenAI), retailers are now embracing Total Experience

“In my view, the primary objective of Total Experience is to deliver personalized and consistent customer experience from start to finish. We want to make sure that we use the data that we have already captured to provide more personalized content and products,” said Ranjith Chalasani, Senior Director, Data and Analytics, Office Depot, during Adobe Summit.

He added: “Overall, the retail industry is going through a major digital transformation journey. Retailers need to rethink their strategies and ensure they have the right data and customer-centric strategy in place.”

This article explores the role of data, GenAI and human-centricity in the revolution of retail experience, highlighting office supply retail giant, Office Depot, as an example of how companies are leveraging total experience strategies to provide personalized journeys to gain competitive advantage.

Office Depot's transformation journey

Partnering with Adobe, Office Depot embarked on a Total Experience transformation last year. Recognizing that customers are their most valuable assets, the company sought to centralize the flow of customer data from different systems into one platform, Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform. 

By doing so, they aimed to gain deeper insights into their customers, segment them effectively and deliver personalized content and products tailored to their specific needs. This strategic move aligned with the changing expectations of today's customers, who increasingly demand personalized experiences throughout their buying journey.

Data and analytics: The key to Total Experience at scale

To deliver personalized experiences at scale, data and analytics play a crucial role. 

According to Chalasani, in an era of consumer privacy policies and evolving data management practices, having a comprehensive data strategy is essential for retailers. By centralizing data and employing robust analytics tools, retailers can gain valuable insights that enable them to understand customer preferences and deliver highly targeted experiences. This ensures that customers feel valued and connected throughout their journey with the brand.

“If we don’t have a true long term data strategy in place, we are going to fall behind because we will not be able to provide the experience that customers are expecting,” said Chalasani.

Keeping humans in the loop

Despite the advancements in technology, humans remain an essential component of the total experience equation. Technology should augment rather than replace.

Office Depot recognizes the advantage it possesses with its physical stores, where face-to-face interactions between customers and employees can establish a personal touch. By ensuring genuine human connections with customers, Office Depot can build trust and deliver exceptional experiences that drive customer loyalty and long-term growth. 

Chalasani also highlights the need for collaboration between IT and business teams to create seamless experiences that combine the power of technology with human-centricity.

The collaborative approach: IT and business teams unite

During a shared session hosted by HCLTech and Office Depot at Adobe Summit, Sadagopan Singham mentioned that the work Chalasani and his team are undertaking is the perfect use case to bring together IT and business teams. A front-end use case that directly impacts the customer and bottom line is something both teams can get behind.

To achieve successful Total Experience implementations, both teams need to work closely together. IT teams must understand the business side of operations, as well as articulate the challenges they face. At the same time, business teams need to effectively communicate their needs, leveraging the insights generated by IT systems. 

This partnership is essential in designing systems and processes that align with customer expectations and business goals.

“It’s very important to have a common ground between business and IT, in order to deliver these kinds of implementations or projects,” said Chalasani.

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The future of retail experience defined by generative AI

The retail landscape is poised to continue evolving when it comes to experience. 

According to Chalasani, GenAI will play a vital role in enhancing productivity, content delivery and experience journeys. This technology will empower retailers to improve efficiency and provide highly personalized experiences. 

However, it is essential to establish governance rules around AI utilization to strike the right balance between automation and human touch. 

Looking ahead, by leveraging the power of data, AI, GenAI and human-centricity, retailers can create personalized experience journeys for customers, employees and users that foster loyalty and drive growth. 

Office Depot's partnership with HCLTech and Adobe and its centralized customer data platform showcases an effective application of delivering a Total Experience strategy. 

As the retail landscape continues to evolve, prioritizing data strategies, collaboration between IT and business teams and embracing AI in all its forms will be critical for retailers seeking to deliver exceptional, consistent and personalized experiences that cater to rapidly shifting demands.

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