Retailers are grappling to meet the demands of consumers and must transform quickly to inspire loyalty with customers who are hopping from store to web to mobile to social, and back again, according to new research from IBM.

IBM’s IBV study of 15 000 Generation Z shoppers, which represent $44-billion in estimated buying power, found the following:

* Despite living largely digital lives, 67% of Generation Z prefer to shop in a brick-and-mortar store all the time, with another 31% preferring to shop in-store sometimes.

* 66% frequently use more than one device and 60 percent will not use an app or website if they are too slow to load.

* Gen Zers demand highly personalized interactions, value quality over price and want to be engaged with the brand across all channels.

IBM’s new Customer Experience study of more than 500 brands in 24 countries shows that despite changing customer demands, businesses are struggling to deliver on the expectations of consumers. The research shows:

* Only19% of retailers can provide a highly personalised digital shopping experience.

* A mere 17% can provide more than in stock/out of stock information.

* 84% did not offer any in-store mobile services.

This gap between what consumers demand and what brands can deliver requires cognitive capabilities that allow retailers to take information from all types of engagement, quickly act across multiple channels and change the rules of engagement.

IBM’s cloud-based cognitive solutions can examine customer data and combine it with data on other critical factors such as weather patterns, pricing trends, buying behaviors, and supplier availability to deliver personalized experiences that customer demand.

“In this new era of customer engagement, what will separate the winners from everyone else is a differentiated brand experience that delivers high impact engagements with compelling personalization regardless of where the customer is,” says Harriet Green, GM of IBM Watson Customer Engagement. “With Watson Cognitive Engagement solutions, IBM is working with retailers across globe to make these experiences a reality for millions of consumers.”