The retail industry is currently undergoing a transformation as it adapts to the always-on, social media-driven, and data-driven world in which we live. The growth of e-commerce has resulted in intense competition between brands and retailers, forcing them to experiment with new ways of doing business.
One way that retailers are trying to keep up with consumers' changing needs is by using artificial intelligence (AI). AI can help retailers personalise their offerings, increase sales, cut costs and improve customer service. As a result, many companies are investing in AI systems to improve their operations.
How can AI be used in retail?
AI can be used for a number of purposes in retail for example:
Personalisation - Retailers can use AI to offer personalised recommendations based on an individual's purchase history, location, or browsing history. For example, Amazon uses AI for product recommendations based on previous purchases made by other customers who bought similar items. It also offers suggestions based on your browsing history and location when you enter a store — such as recommending books if you've been looking at Kindle devices online or suggesting clothes if you've been viewing clothing articles online.
Data analysis - Machine learning algorithms can analyze data sets and automatically create predictive models based on previous patterns. For example, if an algorithm notices that customer service calls are up during certain times of day, the system can automatically schedule staff accordingly.
Predictive analytics - Predictive analytics uses historical data about past sales and behaviors to predict future trends and needs based on customer preferences, demographics, and other factors. This technology can help retailers optimise inventory, staffing levels, and other aspects of their operations.
Automated Supply Chains - AI has the potential to improve supply chain management by automating tasks like order fulfillment, inventory management, and shipping optimisation. This will allow retailers to optimise their operations so they can serve customers better while saving on costs at the same time.
Reducing return - With the growing amount of online shopping today, retailers need to ensure that their products are easy to return in case customers decide they don't like them after all. Using machine learning algorithms, retailers can identify common reasons why people return items and create processes around those reasons so that returns are minimised as much as possible.
Customer Segmentation - Data collected from past purchases are used to segment customers into different groups based on their behavior. This is helpful because it allows retailers to better understand how their customers behave and make more accurate predictions about future sales based on these segments.
Recommendation - Recommendations are another important aspect of AI-powered e-commerce websites. Recommendations help drive sales by showing products that customers might want based on their search history or purchases from other retailers online or offline.
Customer engagement - AI can help retailers understand customer preferences and interests. Retailers can use this information to create personalised shopping experiences based on customers’ interests and preferences.
Digital assistants - Companies like Google Home and Amazon Echo let users ask questions or order items using voice commands. These digital assistants can also be programmed with specific requests from retailers such as “get me a salad” or “order batteries for my garage door opener” which gives them an edge over traditional e-commerce websites when it comes to providing personalised shopping experiences for consumers.
Marketing - Retailers can use AI to analyse customer data and target specific demographics with personalised ads based on their interests or previous purchases. This is especially helpful for brick-and-mortar retailers who do not have access to online browsing habits like online-only stores do through cookies and other tracking methods.
Automated customer service — AI technology can help improve customer service by automating certain repetitive tasks, such as answering simple questions about products or checking inventory levels, so that human employees have more time to focus on customers with more complex needs. The ability to recognise natural language also allows AI systems to interact more naturally with people than traditional automated systems.
With the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, we are entering a new era in which machines will be able to do things that once seemed impossible.
The potential impact of this technology on business is enormous: it could help us learn more about our customers, make better decisions, and improve our efficiency.
How might AI change the way consumers engage with brands?
Consumers want brands to provide personalised experiences, and they want these experiences to be relevant, timely, and personalised. AI has the potential to deliver on this by offering recommendations based on past purchases, preferences, or other factors.
AI can help brands to better understand their customers' needs and wants by analysing data from multiple sources. This data can then be used to create personalised experiences that make interactions more relevant, engaging, and rewarding – ultimately leading to happier customers and more profitable relationships between companies and their users.