Home » Future of Retail and E-Commerce » Four significant areas where shopping will change in 2022

Tony Lorentzen

Senior Vice President, Intelligent Engagement, Nuance

The way shoppers interact with retailers is set to undergo significant changes throughout 2022.

After a challenging 2021 – characterised by disruption, transformation and the impact of the ongoing COVID pandemic – the way customers engage with retailers is set to become more complex. Industry expert Tony Lorentzen points to four key areas where retail customer engagement could change as the year progresses.


Developments will be in “hyper-personalisation,” retailers embracing cloud-based digital contact centres, increased automation with more self-service channels and better fraud prevention.

“Retail brands have always been among the pioneers of personalised customer experiences,” explains Lorentzen. “However, the very idea of ‘personalised’ experiences really arrived in the public consciousness when retailers began tailoring product recommendations based on browsing and purchase histories.

“Today, retailers are getting better and better at collecting and applying customer and operational data and in 2022, we are going to see that result in some truly hyper-personalised experiences.” This will see the use of contextual data to anticipate customer needs and enable timely and time-saving interactions.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be pivotal in these advances and help retailers take personalisation “to the next level.”

Digital contact centres

Lorentzen, who is Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intelligent Engagement Solutions at Nuance Communications, predicts that retailers will see now as the time for a strategic transformation toward cloud-based digital contact centres.

Lorentzen says: “It will provide retail brands with a golden opportunity to rethink and reshape operations and customer journeys and connect the dots between voice and digital engagement channels and between agent-led experiences and interactions with virtual assistants and interactive voice responses.

“It will also integrate with robotic process automation to complete end-to-end journeys without human intervention and bring a host of new customer engagement opportunities.”

Today, retailers are getting better and better at collecting and applying customer and operational data.

Increased automation

Automation will allow agents to focus on helping customers with cases that “genuinely require a human touch” as retailers step up self-service channels to increase customer satisfaction.

“They will be using AI to create more human-like interactions, automate more sophisticated intents and streamline hand-offs to live agents – all to create flexibility and simplicity for consumers,” adds Lorentzen.

Nuance Communications, which is a leader in conversational AI innovations, has worked closely with companies during the pandemic to ensure they had what was needed to serve customers on digital channels without any disruption.

Live assist service

In one example, it supported Currys PLC when lockdown saw stores shut. Currys trained more than 100 agents for its live assist service and deployed a conversational virtual assistant (VA) to continue serving customers. This saw digital interactions rise to 400,000 each month – three times the pre-lockdown level.

Meanwhile, a global fashion retailer implemented the Nuance intelligent engagement platform for virtual and live chat to manage increasing contact volumes, improve customer experience and automate self-service options 24 hours a day across 13 major online countries including the US, UK, Sweden and Germany.

The solution meant consumers could engage with the virtual assistant and live chat agents directly from services like Google Maps or Google Search, for assistance through their shopping experience and to obtain real-time answers to inquiries such as item availability and online order tracking status.

Fraud fight

Fraud surged during the pandemic, but Lorentzen expects retailers to take fraud prevention to a new level in 2022. Until recently, retailers have been reluctant to introduce stronger security checks because of the “friction” it introduces into the shopping experience. “But as we enter 2022, the strongest methods of customer authentication and fraud prevention can be applied in essentially friction-free ways,” he says.

“By layering advanced biometrics with other risk factors, a retailer can now identify a trusted customer, or a known fraudster.” Lorentzen says that at time of rapid and constant change “Correctly anticipating the future can be a huge strategic advantage when it comes to retail customer experience.”

Next article