5 Ways AI Is Transforming Retail & How To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

From the moment we wake up and till the time we go to sleep, AI is a part and parcel of our lives.

Think about it, right from our smartwatch that shows us our stress levels, our water consumption, and our sleeping patterns to the shopping apps that give us the best recommendations (they know our tastes better than our moms do!)

Not to forget the cozy Netflix binge – a show that aligns with our interests suggested by the AI algorithm.

Our lives are impacted by AI more than we know and can imagine.

We’re now conditioned to the idea of personalization and hassle-free experience at every touchpoint.

The retail industry, in particular, is highly impacted by Artificial intelligence.

According to Markets and Markets, Artificial intelligence in the retail market is expected to be USD 5,034.0 Million by 2022.

In this article, we’d be discussing 5 such use cases and how to keep up with these trends.

Let’s begin.

  • AI-based Chatbots To Replace Real Humans

Chatbots are found in almost all online eCommerce sites. But, unlike generic chatbots that have robotic programmed replies, AI-based chatbots are way more advanced, helpful, and personalized.

One of the first brands to implement the AI-based chatbot was Sephora.

The chatbot does not only cater to optimizing the customer experience on the click-and-mortar store but also the brick-and-mortar stores.

It facilitates bridging the gap and making the customer experience unified at every touchpoint.

For instance, if a customer wants to book an appointment with a beauty specialist at the Sephora store, all they have to do is type in the location and the AI-based chatbot will direct them to the nearest location.

The chatbot is highly sophisticated and intelligent because it can understand the conversational and casual language of the user with the NLP technology and give a solution instantly.

How To Stay On Top Of The Trend?

  • Know your objectives and be clear about what you’re trying to solve with the AI-based chatbot
  • Know your business goals and your audience
  • Be data-driven and utilize the information to provide the best customer experience
  • Look at ways to bridge the gap and create a unified experience with chatbots
  • Find AI-based chatbot service providers
  • The Power Of Visuals For An Informed Buying Decision

There are a lot of products that need to be tried on, tested, and evaluated physically before making a purchase decision. This holds true for products that fall under the category of apparel, furniture, and makeup – to name a few.

With AI, the tangibility and the try-on technology can be made possible.

For instance, look at this video where the audience can “try on” different shades of MAC lipsticks along with the influencer. This drives a well-informed purchase decision, thanks to AI.

Note: You can try on the lipsticks on your mobile devices and not the desktop in case you’re interested.

The same is possible for apparel too! With virtual clothes try on you can make sure that your customers do not make a purchase based on plain guesswork and thereby significantly reduce the returns.

A lot of companies like Walmart, IKEA, Marks and Spencers, etc. are already leveraging visual technology to improve their customer experiences.

How To Stay On Top Of The Trend?

  • Evaluate whether the industry you operate in requires AI-based visual technology or not
  • Partner with well-reputed service providers
  • Identify your goals. You must clearly define what you are trying to solve with the visual technology – better customer experience, intelligent stock management, or something else

Logistics & Supply Chain Management For Effective Stock Management

Right from Robots to drones, there are a number of ways in which artificial intelligence is disrupting the supply chain management loop.

Companies like Amazon already have robots in their warehouses to manage the inventories and make the process way more efficient.

The stock management system can be highly sophisticated through AI – demand can be predicted based on weather conditions, purchase history, trends, and more.

AI-based drone delivery systems can also play a huge role when it comes to monitoring the stock levels in the warehouses and prompt action.

How To Stay On Top Of The Trend?

Don’t cling to a trend or technology for the sake of it.

Analyze the scale of your business and then decide whether or not this is applicable to you. Bigwigs like Amazon and Walmart would need the support of AI to handle the scale of their inventories. Alternatively, if you’re a fairly small business, then, drones could come in handy for your inventory management or delivery.

  • Product recommendations for better customer service

How does Netflix recommend TV shows that perfectly fit your tastes and preferences?

With the power of AI-based recommendation engines and algorithms that track your browsing history and analyze the shows, you viewed in the past, these smart recommendations happen.

Similarly, your online retails stores can also leverage AI to recommend products to your consumers and this is not just limited to virtual shopping.

This can also be made possible in a physical retail store with the help of beacon technology. Beacons use the power of Bluetooth and location data to make recommendations to a shopper with smartphones. They use proximity marketing and make the right prompt at the right time.

How To Stay On Top Of The Trend?

This is an advanced trend that may not be applicable to all retailers. Begin by understanding what this can solve and how it can help your business and slowly work your way up towards deciding whether or not you’d need this.

  • Automated checkout machines

In order to phase out queues, cashier, and checkout lines, Amazon’s stores in the US and UK, with their Amazon Go app make it possible for shoppers to add items to their carts virtually.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrmMk1Myrxc

The shoppers will have to just pick up products and they’d be added to their virtual carts automatically. Once they’re done, they just exit the store and the price would be automatically deducted from their Amazon account.

Sensor fusion, deep learning, and AI-driven technology make it possible. Companies like Mcdonald’s and Amazon have implemented this technology to make shopping as seamless as possible.

How To Stay On Top Of The Trend?

If you’re a grocery store or a massive store like Walmart, you may want to consider this technology in order to reduce time wasted on checkout queues.

Is It Time To Hop On To The Trend? Think again.

The retail industry is advancing every passing day.

It is indispensable for every business to stay relevant and updated with the latest technology and trends.

But at the same time, there’s no one size fits all.

Adapting to these trends may vary based upon several factors. Ask yourself:

  • How mature is my brand both on a financial and popularity basis?
  • What’s the current objective of my business?
  • Which niche do I belong to?
  • What AI-based technology would make more sense for my business?
  • Are all your competitors using it?
  • Do our customers need it desperately?

You may have to dive deep into these questions and evaluate your answers to make sure that all of this makes sense to your business.

But, no matter what your business goals are or which niche you belong to, you must ensure that you drive good customer experience and revenue with eCommerce essentials.

Ensure you drive it with detailed product descriptions, rich media assets, contextual nudges with email marketing automation, well-timed abandoned cart emails, and more.

I hope this helps you stay ahead of the game. If you have any questions or would like to add your thoughts, feel free to comment and I’d be happy to chat 🙂

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