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The grocer’s philosophy when it comes to building loyalty is to encourage one more shopping trip or one more product purchase. Retailers and grocers use loyalty programmes to collect data from previous purchases, which is used to personalise offers for relevant products and drive footfall back to store. Whilst this technique has its successes, it’s difficult relying on the past to predict the future. It’s important to evolve beyond predicting, and actually engage with consumers, offering something truly compelling to change shopper behaviour.

The best way to encourage engagement is through the smartphone. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated search engines, we can easily search for any product and instantly receive directions to the nearest store. However, once inside the store entrance, all mobile enablement ends and the consumer must either hunt for their product themselves or ask a customer advisor for help.

Retailers and grocers need to seize this opportunity to engage with shoppers in store through mobile, which can add rich content to the shopping experience.

Imagine if a shopper wanted to find an appropriate wine for their meal. If they could ask their phone for a red wine that complemented lamb, the grocer could return a list of recommendations to choose from in store.

This year we’ve seen an evolution in how we interact with search with the proliferation of voice technology. According to Google, 20% of all digital searches use voice. Alexa, Siri and Cortana have become increasingly popular; whether in the car or around your house, voice is a more convenient way to get information when active.

When browsing in store or juggling a basket, shopping is a prime target for hands-free voice tech. I would predict in the next year a high-profile retailer or grocer will launch a voice-enabled concierge to help offer customers relevant promotions, recipe ideas and guide them round the store. After another year, I could see widespread adoption of the technology.

We’re already seeing voice technology entering the food and beverage market. Starbucks is now trialling My Starbucks Barista, which lets customers order via voice command in the Starbucks app, or order through their Alexa at home.

Traditionally, retailers and grocers attempt to predict relevant products for their customers, but a two-way conversation helps suggestions hit the mark. Through the smartphone you can hear straight from the customer what that extra item in the basket might be.

As we enter the voice era, shopping remains an untapped, prime market for hands-free technology and the business that gets there first will be rewarded.

Tim Mason is CEO of Eagle Eye