Some retailers have been utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) for a while now, while others are merely dabbling in it. Sure, AI is much louder and more evident in the mainstream media or in our everyday lives (think the onset of self-driving cars) than in retail.
But AI applications can help retailers digitally integrate with physical stores and provide richer, more engaging experiences with their customers.
Simply put, it's the growing ability of machines to do work that previously required human intelligence. While many techniques fall under AI's definition, the buzz lately (and the significant innovations) has been overwhelmingly driven by advances in Machine Learning algorithms. These advances are made possible with cloud computing and the ability to rapidly scale up to tackle tasks that used to be too 'big' for a computer to manage.
So, when people are talking about AI transforming retail, what they usually are referring to are advances in machine learning unlocking colossal value. Here’s a few ways we’re seeing this in practice.
Chatbots & voice search
In the form of assistants and automated customer service reps, chatbots are becoming increasingly common across the industry. They have the potential to create a pleasant experience for the user, one that is directed at identifying precisely what best suits their needs while promoting the brand identity through the chatbot persona itself.
Walmart, Tesco, Kohl's, Costco, and many other big brands use Google or Amazon AI technology to provide customers with a quick and straightforward voice search. Now customers can just ask Alexa for the desired item and its delivery status without typing anything. In fact, 27% of people worldwide use voice search on mobile, and 52% prefer it to mobile apps and websites for their convenience.
Some other Artificial Intelligence platforms enable business owners to use behavioral economics and build an individual approach to each customer. The algorithm processes the customer's emotional responses and behavior during previous shopping experiences and tries to develop optimal pricing offers for a particular visitor.
Customer satisfaction tracking
Artificial Intelligence is capable of detecting the mood of your customers during the shopping process. A few leading brands have introduced a facial recognition system for this function. Cameras are installed at each checkout lane. If a customer is annoyed, a shop representative will talk to him or her. Mood tracking will definitely help build stronger relationships with customers.
We're seeing the companies that are winning in this space are the ones who take a few concrete, high impact areas like Pricing, Assortment, or Supply Chain accuracy and make big bets in a focused way, as opposed to those who are grinding it out trying to fix everything from Master Data Accuracy to data platforms to systems integration all at once.
As the wins come in and the organization adapts accordingly, it becomes easier to fund the transition of the overall infrastructure and attract the right people into the culture to drive the changes.
As Solugenix VP of Customer Experience and Support Services, Chris Antonelli manages the delivery of customer support services and customer experience initiatives for clients in the retail and financial services industries. Chris leverages two decades of experience in leadership roles where she has guided best-in-class customer support service solutions to global brands like McDonald’s, BMW, Citibank, Sonic Drive-In, and Jiffy Lube. As an Executive Council member for Ellevate Network, Chris is dedicated to the professional development of women in the workforce and ardent supporter of remote workforce development.