Retail Industry is looking at Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as a solution to take their organisation to the next level of productivity and customer experience. To explain this better, let us look at it this way – retail companies have access to a huge amounts of data about their customers and their shopping preferences. It is difficult for the companies to drill down into these huge mines of useful data and analyse it properly and derive actionable insights in real time. Therefore, massive amounts of this useful information could go waste which would otherwise have helped in increasing sales conversion rates or enhancing the customer satisfaction.
With the help of AI and ML, the huge amount of big data could be used in creating web shops that take customer information and turn it into targeted shopping experiences or online chatbots that can easily answer questions and assist customers, or in-store intelligence to make the customer experience even more interactive. Various retailers who have already implemented AI solutions in their business lines are reaping greater benefits and conversion rates than their fellow competitors.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of AI implementation in the retail business –
Sephora’s Virtual Artist app
This app enables customers to try on products virtually via Sephora’s app and in store. It uses facial recognition features and augmented reality to allow users to virtually try out different types of products. For example, it can scan the skin surface and suggest a scientifically precise foundation match. This state-of-the-art Sephora technology uses advanced AI to decipher images and suggest the right product.
Olay’s Skin Advisor
This app analyses the skin using AI technology and discovers the skin age. Based on the analysis, it provides a highly personalised beauty routine to address the skin’s specific needs.
IKEA’s AI survey
Ikea has launched a survey which collects as much data as possible about its users and how they want their AI assistant to be designed. For instance, the survey gathers information like do you want your AI to be male or female? Do you want it to have a name? All this information will be used by Ikea to know the sentiments of their customers and design AI bots and the future furniture according to the customer needs.
Target’s Pinterest Partnership
Target Incorporation is integrating Pinterest Inc’s visual search technology which the social media platform calls Lens. The tool allows shoppers to take and submit a picture of what they are searching for, and the app will return search results of similar-looking Target products.
Knorr’s Instagram integration
Knorr, the Unilever-owned food and beverage brand, introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that offers personalised meal suggestions based on a person’s Instagram feed. Using AI and visual recognition technology, consumers can receive meal inspirations that relate to their own memories shared on Instagram. This fun feature could spur even more social media sharing as people post photos of the meals that they create from Knorr’s recipe generator!
Wheelys Moveable Market
Retail start-up Wheelys has designed a prototype self-driving supermarket that will navigate to different locations throughout the day. It uses artificially intelligent holograms to help customers. It will self-drive to location where it is in demand and will automatically return back to the warehouse to pick up new stock.
Walmart’s Supply Chain Optimisation
Walmart uses AI to optimise a number of processes, from checkout-less commerce to Pick Up Towers in stores. It recently has launched a delivery programme which is aimed at conquering the last mile problems – this program uses data to determine who should deliver what, as well as streamline inventory management.
eBay’s Personal Shopper
Shopbot eBay’s chatbot helps people find the best deal from an overwhelming list of offerings. Combining AI with eBay’s breadth of inventory and unique collection helps this bot offer a highly personalised shopping experience to every visitor.
Amazon’s AI Fashion
Amazon’s AI system both tracks and reacts to current design trends. Amazon’s Lab126 has developed an algorithm that gathers data from the vast amount fashion imagery and creates garments based on that data. Amazon researchers also developed a machine learning algorithm which can predict if a label is stylish or not just by analysing a few labels attached to images. The software could conceivably provide fashion feedback or recommendations for adjustments.
Alibaba’s FashionAI Platform
FashionAI is a new tool from online giant Alibaba that acts as a personal stylist for brick-and-mortar shoppers. The tool itself provides personalised recommendations for customers based on the items they are trying on through the item’s tag.
With so many areas of AI innovations led by retail Industry giants, the future retail business will likely be dictated by the AI. Every large-scale retailer in the world is looking for the “next steps,” towards implementing AI in their retail business and the broad swath of relatively smaller retailers will be soon joining in this race of AI madness to grab a larger part of the retail market. Hope to see AI driven retail business everywhere in the world very soon.