Happy Friday! ‘This week in CX’ brings you the latest roundup of industry news.

This week, we delve into the latest findings that drive retailers forward, exploring predictions about generative AI that could impact us all.

Key news

  • HubSpot and TikTok are joining forces to make community-based customer acquisition easier than ever for B2B brands. What does it mean? A new integration is designed to easily capture leads from TikTok directly in HubSpot’s Smart CRM. Businesses in the UK can already benefit from the combined power of the leading destination for short-form mobile video and the leading customer platform to drive growth. The partnership comes as customers are turning to social media for brand and product discovery.
  • According to the CEM Benchmark, an international study on the current state of customer experience management, the maturity level of customer experience management has slightly decreased compared to previous reports on a global scale. On average, the index number for respondent organizations is now 51 in the international comparison and 52 at the Finnish level, measured on a scale of 0-100. For more in-depth information, please refer to the full report.
  • OpenAI launched its “GPT Store.” What’s in there? Categories such as DALL·E, writing, research, programming, education, and lifestyle dominate the leaderboard, reflecting the multifaceted applications of these advanced language models. Read the full press for more info.

Commentary news share: Google has started to disable third-party cookies across Google Chrome

Here’s what Alex Hazell, Head of Privacy and Legal, EMEA at Acxiom, has to say:

“Organisations have two key ways of overcoming this – they either target all potential customers with the same message and hope for the best, or they rely even more on Big Tech companies, who already cannibalise most of the marketing revenue, to inform their data strategies. This is where regulation such as the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) will play a pivotal role in challenging Big Tech, and forcing direct access to information across all players. In parallel the UK competition authority is closely monitoring Google’s latest moves to see whether intervention is needed.“

Free returns win hearts: do shoppers stay loyal to retailers that offer free returns? 

A recent survey by SAP Emarsys Customer Engagement reveals that half (50%) of UK shoppers display increased loyalty to retailers offering free returns. The study, encompassing over 2,000 UK consumers, indicates that 82% have ceased shopping with a retailer due to the implementation of paid returns, with 44% actively avoiding such retailers.

Return rates are on the rise, with 71% of shoppers returning items in the past year. Notably, 25% admit to ‘wardrobing,’ purchasing items with the intention of returning them, often involving multiple sizes for fit uncertainty.

In response to this, some retailers have introduced return fees, but the research suggests that 47% of consumers have become less loyal to brands implementing such charges. Moreover, 66% prefer to avoid returns altogether, with 56% desiring retailers to “get it right the first time.” The findings emphasise consumer interest in reducing returns through personalised product selections (26%), with 26% hoping for more personalised online recommendations and deals, aiming to replicate the in-store shopping experience.

Will AI help you with your personal finances in 2024? These predictions say it will

2023 was marked by the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), changing consumer demands and a challenging economic climate. As we enter 2024, some of these trends will continue to set the tone for many businesses across the UK, whilst others will bring new challenges and opportunities across industries.

These predictions have been shared by Samina Hussain-Letch, Head of UK Payments Partnerships & Industry Relations.

  • Generative AI will allow consumers to take greater control of their personal finances

The new year will see AI technology shift to a maturing phase, having a major impact across a wide range of industries. Financial services will be one of the main areas it will affect, with companies able to use increasingly sophisticated chatbots to improve communications with customers to give them greater control over their personal finances.

In addition, as they develop, technologies like AI should also help improve financial enablement in 2024, helping businesses in the sector reduce and eliminate bias in their decision-making process and create a more inclusive financial landscape in the UK.

  • As economic challenges persist, buy now pay later will continue to rise in 2024  

Economic climates have been difficult over the past year and will continue to be challenging in 2024. We expect even more retailers to allow flexible payment options such as Buy Now, Pay Later for customers, empowering consumer purchasing while enabling them to stagger payments in a safe way.

We’ve seen the importance of such offerings to streamline business success, particularly over Black Friday with a 52% increase year-on-year of consumers using these services to manage festive spending. Adopting such services is going to be even more crucial for retailers in attracting customers as we enter 2024.

Manual software testing is holding retailers back 

A modern and efficient Point-of-Sale (POS) system is crucial for both in-store and online retail experiences, acting as a central hub that integrates various applications and systems. As Forrester predicts a significant rise in in-store retail sales and click-and-collect sales in the US, creating a successful omnichannel experience becomes essential.

However, despite the growing importance of POS systems, a report by Keysight reveals that 63% of North American retailers are failing to meet all POS testing requirements before a release. Shockingly, 72% of these retailers still rely on manual testing, hindering their success. Manual testing struggles to balance speed with quality, creating a critical dilemma for retailers trying to respond quickly to customer demands and gain a competitive edge.

The study emphasizes that retailers using manual testing face challenges such as release delays or cancellations, with 81% experiencing these setbacks annually. The complexity of vital system integrations and peripheral devices adds further complications, leading to poor coverage, lengthy testing times, and delayed or cancelled releases. Retailers with more integrations and services tend to suffer more due to the added layer of complexity and time in the testing process.

 84% of advertisers blast “ridiculous” reliance upon paper 

A recent study by content services provider Hyland reveals that 84% of UK advertisers and media professionals find their company’s reliance on paper “ridiculous,” with 73% expressing a desire for increased environmental consciousness. The media industry, in particular, feels strongly about this, surpassing sentiments in other professions.

Despite these views, 92% of UK businesses still heavily depend on paper documents. Half of the professionals surveyed feel guilty about their company’s paper usage, and 69% wish for initiatives to offset paper consumption through tree planting.

For advertising and media professionals, the solution lies in digital adoption, with 90% believing that transitioning to a digital document management system would significantly enhance sustainability. However, 68% note that their current document management systems are inadequate, indicating that limitations in legacy technologies contribute to the persistent reliance on paper.

Thanks for tuning into CXM’s weekly roundup of industry news. Check back next Friday for the latest updates of the week!

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