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AI Wears Many Hats in Retail

by Samantha Kalany

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The retail world has become vastly more digital in the midst of the global pandemic, in an attempt to make things easier on everyone, business owners, retail employees, consumers, and more. Each year, the almost every vertical market undergoes a slight upgrade, or digital transformation, if you will, where new technologies and trends surge their way into the industry to help make the environment more user friendly. During this time, where everything has been entirely unprecedented and the hope for vaccine distribution is the one thing everyone seems to holding onto, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has moseyed its way into retail environments to help provide some relief and excitement into the workflow.

Let’s get Personal

AI has been deemed essential, when it comes to making data work for retail environments. AI counterparts are able to quickly sift through the boatloads of data to find patterns, similarities, and additional insights to better target and market to a specific store’s customer base. Once AI is able to pick up on this type of data, customers are able to receive more personalized experiences, just for shopping there, for example look at how loyalty programs suggest specific sales’ weekends or send out coupon packs based off of recent purchase. There is a place for AI in the retail spectrum, and it’s continuing to satisfy customers on a daily basis.AI

Personalized marketing is a good starting point to directly communicating to the consumer. Brand individualization needs to be placed at the forefront of every directive, including operations, merchandising, and product development in order to effectively create connections. According to research recorded by the 2020 Consumer Attitudes on Personalized Advertising, 29% of consumers found they would be more likely to purchase something if an ad was more personalized to their liking, and following that 31% expressed that they were be likely to embrace such personalization if it was presented to them effectively.

Retail is Gaining its Smarts

Through the United States, there have been many fashion retailers that have adopted ‘smart’ retail technologies to place themselves ahead of their competition, by integrated smart checkout counters and intuitive concierges of sorts to place that ‘WOW’ factor within their sales floor to turn heads. Even before the pandemic, there was a smart sense of AI in the retail world, especially when it comes to implementing aspects of personalization into the ‘shopping-as-an-experience’ mantra.

According to Chief Practice Officer, CPG, Retail and Hospitality at Fractal Analytics, the key AI tactics that are paying off for retailers at the moment are the ones who support digital marketplaces, dynamic pricing, and of course, who can forget about AIthe powerful voice of chatbots. Retailers are finally capitalizing on the idea that they can utilize AI services to maximize their efficiency and decision-making processes at any stage in the journey. The world is their oyster and AI is their tool.

It’s no secret that retail is very conscious of just how sensitive their pricing modules are and with the help of AI, these assistants can take a closer look at how other stores are framing their prices, next to what customer commonly pays for items. Retailers can also modify pricing structure based off of seasonal trends, competing products, and the ultimate consumer demand put in place. Though retailers might not notice immediate results, there is still a need for this type of revenue in the long run and AI can help place the cherry on top.

Because of COVID-19

Beyond the customer-facing portion of retail, shop owners are utilizing AI to customize some behind-the-scenes changes to make the front-facing section of retail more appeasing for customers, from here on out. When shops were closed down during the heat of the pandemic, people were working from home, while also doubling as home-school teachers for their little one who were familiarizing themselves with e-learning and remote education environments, retailers were adding their assistance to the equation by offering simplified fulfillment options, such as Curbside Pickup, and BOPIS. AI digital assistants were able monitor these interactions by ensuring that the right packages were delivered and synced up with the accurate shopper. As physical retail store-fronts begin to open their doors to the public, it’s likely that these strategies will still stay around as an option for shoppers who aren’t so willing to be around massive crowds of people at the grocery store just yet.

AIIf 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible. Following up to that notion, AI replaces intuition with intelligence in the retail market, and opens up a door to the future of possibilities. AI can guarantee long-term success, especially as the future is unknown, and who knows where we will all be in a year’s time, but one thing that we can count on is that Artificial Intelligence will do it’s best to curate better experiences for customers within the retail spectrum.

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