Synchrony eyes chatbots, artificial intelligence to halt retailer app churn

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Keeping consumers engaged with mobile apps is a losing battle most of the time, with studies suggesting 90% of consumers stop using newly downloaded apps within 30 days, but Synchrony Financial is fighting that trend with new technology for retailers’ mobile apps that may soon include chatbots and artificial intelligence.

Since introducing the Synchrony Plug-in (SyPi) credit feature last fall for several of its retail clients after acquiring technology firm GPShopper, Synchrony said online engagement levels have improved, with app users now able to check purchase activity, credit levels, rewards status and receive notifications of customized offers when visiting participating stores' mobile apps.

“The evolution of SyPi is progressing at a much faster pace than we’d anticipated, with consumers now going to the stores’ apps now to check their account status and then spending a great deal more time within the apps,” said Florin Arghirescu, senior vice president of technology, retail and payment innovation at Synchrony Financial.
Checking account status is one of the top three activities of all consumers visiting the mobile apps of Synchrony’s top retail financial partners that have adopted SyPi, which places a digital card account within the app, and its popularity is climbing, according to the Stamford, Conn.-based financial services provider.

“As soon as a retailer enables SyPi, more than half of its app users immediately engage with it for account services,” Arghirescu said, noting that the plug-in typically replaces and streamlines processes where consumers were directed to check account status or pay bills online or through mailed statements.

So far about 10 of Synchrony’s retail clients have added SyPi to their mobile apps, and as millions of consumers migrate to paying their monthly bills through participating retailers’ mobile apps, it’s also driving those more downloads and overall app usage for those stores, Arghirescu said.

JCPenney and Dick’s Sporting Goods were among the first to launch SyPi, and others are coming aboard soon, he said. But Walmart, a Synchrony customer through its private-label and Walmart Mastercard, is one retailer that has not adopted SyPi, Arghirescu said.

“Retailers above all want to customize their approaches to suit their customer and their business models, and we enable that allowing features to choose which of our services and functions to enable, including with SyPi,” he said.

But SyPi alone may not be enough to keep retailers’ customers engaged, as the omnichannel requires constant innovation, Arghirescu said.

“Deeper integration with our retail partners with data analytics, artificial intelligence and chatbots are all part of the overall vision for SyPi,” he said, though he didn’t specify when these features may roll out.

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