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Retail Revolution and the Power of AI

The use of AI and machine learning in the retail industry is growing at an exponential rate. Retailers have been able to see the results delivered by artificial intelligence systems instantly. AI is expected to become pervasive across customer journeys, merchandising, marketing, and supply networks as it can provide detailed insights to optimize the retail operations. Big data and machine learning have been successfully used by several retailers to achieve substantial increase in their operating margins. Such technologies can enable retailers to deliver personalizedFree demo experiences to the customer in order to increase loyalty and spending. There are various use cases for AI in retail industry that can change the way this sector operates.

Uses of AI in retail industry

Sales and CRM applications

In 2010, Japan’s SoftBank telecom developed a humanoid robot, Pepper, which can interact with customers and perceive human emotions. The robot was used as a customer service greeter and representative in over 140 stores. The company later reported up to 70% increase in footfall in multiple stores. Additionally, an American company developed AI-powered sales-assistant software, Conversica, which identifies and converses with internet leads to enhance sales. The customized sales assistant software is also used for cross-selling and re-engaging existing leads.

Customer Recommendation

Product recommendation tools are adding significant revenues to e-commerce businesses. IBM Watson is one of the most advanced AI systems that exhibits order management and customer engagement capabilities. IBM Watson uses personality insights taking into account users personal information, browsing history, past transaction data, and other dynamic data including weather, location, time, and items in cart to develop its recommendation engine. By calculating respective personality profile, IBM Watson can accurately suggest brands and products users are most likely to buy. For instance, North Face has used IBM Watson’s cognitive computing technology to suggest jackets for the customers based on variables like gender and location.

Manufacturing

Long after automation revolutionized the manufacturing industry, AI is set to be next wave of change in this sector. AI can help companies keep inventories lean and reduce the cost. For instance, GE’s Brilliant Manufacturing software enables manufacturers to predict, adapt, and react more effectively by incorporating SCADA, MES, and analytics. It empowers decision makers with deep operational intelligence and real-time visibility to reduce unplanned downtime and inventory.

Logistics and delivery

Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU) has developed a prototype delivery robot that can keep food and drinks at an appropriate temperature. Its sensor also helps the device to navigate the best travel path for delivery. Alongside DRU, Amazon’s Prime Air is expected to be the future of delivery systems. Such drones can deliver parcels up to five pounds in weight in less than 30 minutes. The autonomous delivery of goods can significantly improve the performance of the retail industry and increase customer satisfaction.

Payment services

With a view to reign in the retail industry, Amazon introduced its brick-and-mortar store, Amazon Go which enables check-out free technology that allows customers to shop and leave. Their check-out free shopping experience uses the same kind of AI technology used in autonomous cars including computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. It automatically detects when the products are taken from or returned to shelf keeping track of it in a virtual cart. When customers are done with their shopping, they simply check out of the store, and Amazon will deduct the amount from their Amazon account. With regards to payment services, AI is also showing its potential in payments fraud. Payment fraud is a matter of concern in the e-commerce space, where fraudsters are using stolen accounts to make purchases. AI technologies can study thousands of purchase patterns to differentiate between payment made by the genuine user and a fraudster.

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Watch Out for These Budding Trends in The Retail Industry

As the popular quote goes “Change is inevitable,” the retail industry has seen a series of ups and downs in the recent past. From the fall of conventional selling techniques to the rise of breakthrough ideas and retail innovation, the companies in the retail industry are leaving no stone unturned to identify new techniques of garnering popularity among customers. With the number of competitor brands on the rise, retail companies are left with no option but to identify and adapt to new business trends. Here are a few examples of popular retail innovation trends that have taken the retail industry by storm.Free demo

Amazon Prime

The world is going digital. Companies are competing with one another to own top-notch technology that would give them an edge over their competitors. With e-commerce sales being predicted to grow exponential, there is no looking back for e-commerce companies like Amazon. Amazon prime members are entitled to special services such as shorter delivery time, easy tracking of order (using an app similar to Uber cab arrival), attractive discounts for prime customers, etc.  Amazon is implementing many such business trends into their business model to enhance their customer experience

Blockchain

For those unacquainted with this term, blockchain is the foundation of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. With the help of blockchain, data can be structured and a digital ledger can be shared by competitors across a network of computers without regulation from any central authority. Blockchain is being adopted as a retail innovation to track the products from the manufacturing stage to the end user, provide product warranty information to customers through a cloud network, trade promotion management, etc.

Mobile click-and-collect

Click and collect refers to a mechanism, whereby, the customer purchases the product online but collects the product from the retail store. Many retailers are experimenting with this retail innovation, which helps companies to deliver products easily to customers and also saves them the effort and time required to go to the store and make the purchase.

Real-time Analytics

Real-time analytics is mainly concerned with giving the customers a personalized experience through the customer data collected. With new and varied types of business and customer data available to retailers, employing them into various retail innovations and business trends should not be a difficult task for the business.

Mobile Payments

Don’t you get annoyed when you have to wait for a long time in the billing counters while the card machine processes the transaction and gives you a receipt? Many retailers have identified this gap, and hence the breakthrough retail innovation of mobile payments have garnered popularity in retail. Many retailers have switched to cloud-based POS systems, making payments simpler and faster for them and the customers.

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