By Daniel Casillas, MWN
Artificial Intelligence has become a reality in retail stores and this technology has important functions—especially today amidst a global pandemic—since it can be used to analyze inventory, allow contactless payments and even pick up products in the form of robots.
AI use is becoming popular among retailers, as it is now being used in stores to facilitate the work of sellers and encourage people to buy more products. According to a Capgemini Research Institute study, by 2018 more than a quarter of retailers worldwide (28 percent) were implementing AI in their stores. The same study revealed that 98 percent of the 400 retailers that implemented the technology expected the number of customer complaints to decrease by up to 15%, while 99% expected AI to increase sales by the same amount. The same report confirmed that retailers can save more than $300 billion in the future by scaling AI deployments across the value chain.
“AI can also assist in keeping track of previous customer selections and preferences and make predictions about future purchases. This paves the way for repeat buying and increased customer loyalty, and it can help retailers with demand forecasting allowing them to make better data-driven decisions,” Daniel Burke, retail consultant at Blick Rothenberg, explained to Metro.
Zeus Kerravala, a principal analyst at ZK Research, an agency specialized in technology analysis, believes that AI recommendations are one of the main contributions of this technology to retailers:
“They use Artificial Intelligence for making recommendations to customers. Amazon does this online but some have started to do it in stores with push messages.”
But AI doesn’t exclusively help retailers. New generation of shoppers, especially the millennials, expect bespoke shopping experiences in real-time and at the lowest price.
“They expect retailers to know them as well as their local grocer used to. They don’t want to be flooded with thousands of irrelevant products,” Burke added.
However, as with all technology, the use of data-based Artificial Intelligence can have a negative impact on customers as their personal data is being accessed and retained by retailers. But despite the drawbacks, experts point out that AI could be an important tool for businesses to achieve more sales by getting to know their customers and offering a better shopping experience.
“By delighting clients through new innovations, retailers will build up customer retention and ultimately drive sales,” Burke concluded. “Retailers today have to adapt Artificial Intelligence to survive.”
Metro spoke with Kerravala to discover more about AI shopping trends:
Tell about the use of Artificial Intelligence in retail stores.
There is currently a lot of AI being used in retail stores. Some retailers use virtual bots with natural language processing to find merchandise. I know of a beauty store that measures skin tone and runs it through an AI algorithm to find the optimal toner and concealer. Other retailers use this technology for making recommendations to customers.
What are other ways it is being used?
There are many other ways. Robots can scan items to count inventory much faster than people. It can be used for contactless payments, similar to the way an Amazon Go store does. Any retailer that keeps track of historical purchases can use AI for recommendations. AI can also analyze inventory levels and incorporate other data such as weather to predict purchases to better control in-store merchandise.
What benefits does Artificial Intelligence offer to retail stores and customers?
It can improve the customer shopping experience, speed up payments. It can be used to help retailers understand how to place inventory to maximize sales. Facial recognition can also greet people through a bot, etc.
How can Artificial Intelligence operate in stores?
Daniel Burke, retail consultant at Blick Rothenberg, explained to Metro:
- It keeps track of previous customer selections and preferences and makes predictions about future purchases.
- Digital employees on the shop floor can provide customers with everything they need for an outstanding shopping experience.
- Artificial Intelligence improves supply chain and inventory management.
- It also powers “contactless” shopping. This allows completely contact-free shopping, where consumers could walk into a store, grab the items they want and exit without stopping at a single check out to fully automate the payments process.
- Cleaning robots are already being used by several supermarkets.
- Catching thieves is another task AI can be helpful with.