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“Waves are not measured in feet and inches, they are measured in increments of fear.”
- Buzzy Trent (pioneer of big wave surfing)

Surfers are always on the lookout for big waves.

The most desirable waves often occur when the weather is stormy and uncertain. Surfers courageously enter raging swells and "take the drop." Just one epic ride provides motivation to keep trying and to perfect the approach.

And so it goes with Retail Innovation. It seems simple. But underneath the simplicity is an incredible amount of hard work that requires us to get back on that board and try again. The voice of consumers and markets are the wind building into the waves that entice industry leaders to innovate and produce new solutions. These "waves" then propel new ideas to the market.

Are you ready to ride retail’s waves of change? Cowabunga!

To help you dive deeper into the minds of shoppers, we surveyed OVER 500 consumers from North America to uncover behaviors and preferences for both online and in-store experiences.
The following statistics focus on consumers only. In addition to the consumer survey, we interviewed industry experts along with leading retailer, one of the first companies to begin offering a voice-enabled skill on Amazon Alexa for customers to place orders via voice commands.

To access the full 2018 Report of Online Shoppers, click here.

See where retail’s biggest waves of change are occurring, as told by consumers and retailers alike. We invite you to “rethink” retail with us as you continue engineering experiences for your customers.
If available, would you shop using Augmented Reality?
For example, using your smartphone camera to place 3D versions of actual products in your home to see how it looks.
How likely are you to buy groceries or other products with a smart assistant?
e.g., Amazon Echo or Google Home
*16% answered "Unsure"
Would likely buy products using a smart assistant.
Approximately 1 in 5 online shoppers own an in-home digital assistant, and more than 1 in 10 plan on purchasing one.
Of those who shop online...
also shop in store
shop using voice assistant
shop via mobile
When shopping in store, how do you primarily use your mobile device?
comparing prices
looking for coupons or discounts
researching product information
reading product reviews
*42% answered "None" and 1% answered with “Other”
- Social Media -
1 in 4 shoppers like, share or comment on a brand’s social media post at least once a week
- Customer Service -
Online shoppers
and in-store checkout
Click through the tabs to see the percentages for each self-checkout method.
Use some form of self-checkout.
Both kiosk and smartphone.
Assuming you could get your questions answered faster, how would you prefer to contact customer service?
FB Messenger
Voice Assistant
"Customers have spoken and they are adopting voice. Retailers need to be ready to service their customers on their platform of choice. In less than 10 years, voice will dominate."
- Amit Shah, CMO of
scroll to bottom of page for full interview
- mobile payment apps -
1 in 4 use mobile pay for retail purchases at least once per week
*Of respondents ages 18-44, and
mobile pay as in Apple Wallet, Samsung Pay, etc.
Full interview with Amit Shah, CMO of 1-800-Flowers
Where are you investing most next year from an innovation perspective?

1800Flowers is continuing to invest in deepening customer experiences across touchpoints. We are very bullish on artificial intelligence and believe that our early investment in AI is starting to pay off for personalization and voice search. The next year of innovation will be customers demanding deeper and deeper experiences. For customers, it’s not just about asking for data but doing something with the data.

What retail technology are you most excited about right now? 

Voice is the most exciting platform.

What have you learned from offering your Alexa skill? How has consumer behavior changed since launching?

First, I will tell you about the company background to provide some context. 1-800-Flowers started out in 1976 as a florist based in New York. Even then it was all about the human experience -- we were involved in the ebbs and flows of our customers' lives. Over the years we made a number of moves in the right direction. We were one of the first retailers to begin using a toll-free telephone number (1800Flowers), which allowed us to have conversations with customers at scale. Then in the 1990s we purchased the website domain Customers could access the online catalog, but this channel resulted in fewer conversations with customers. Nowadays, we see more and more retailers giving up on the core relationships they worked so hard to build with their customers. Our goal is to maintain and grow our customer relationships. In support of this, we were one of the first companies to offer a voice-enabled skill on Amazon Alexa. The ability to reach customers at scale and have distributed conversations is critical for us. Early adopters in Alexa and voice assistants enjoy a critical advantage over competitors. Why? Because the artificial intelligence (AI) is learning how to better service customers on the platform and therefore provides useful insights for retailers. For example, customers engage better if you say “hello” versus “hi” on Alexa. Over time, the experience becomes more personalized as the platform learns and tunes the experience based on who is engaging with the platform. For retailers, AI-enabled voice assistants offer personalized conversations at scale.

What advice would you give other retailers interested in offering/implementing voice ordering capabilities?

At 1800Flowers, we never make choices about technology. We let our customers tell us which choice they make - and we think our customers have spoken and they are adopting voice en mass. Retailers need to be ready to service their customers on their platform of choice. We believe the LQ (or learning quotient of the company) is critical. In order to stay competitive, it’s important for retailers to hire people who are interested in learning and keeping up with these new technologies. Everyone’s business is going be machine learning in a few years time. If companies are not open to learning, they will not be able to keep up. In fact, we believe that voice will dominate in less than 10 years.

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