Today, artificial intelligence is neither a myth nor a magic machine. It is a technology, like any other, that has reached a new plateau of productivity. From gadgets to automobiles, from healthcare to security, AI owns a share in every field. Nearly all industrial segments and business domains are actively interested in incorporating AI for business benefits. AI provides companies and businesses the power to reduce costs and make the experience delightful and satisfactory for the consumers. So how can the retail industry stay away from the benefits of AI?
According to statistics, the investments in AI by the retails sector is going to exceed USD 8 billion by 2024. With the ever-increasing applications of machine learning and deep learning that show promise, the digital revolution in the retail sector is bound to happen.
Globally, many AI experts believe that technology will offer a wide range of applications in the retail sector. In the coming years, infusion of AI-based solutions will prevail in the day to day operations. Both consumers and retailers will benefit from the introduction of AI in the retail segment.
The Impact of AI.
AI can serve as a boon for the retail companies that gather and process customer data. The technology can help derive meaningful conclusions from a massive amount of data and help companies to have a personalized shopping experience by developing highly structured online shops, chatbots and intelligent in-store bots.
Here are some interesting ways through which AI is upgrading the shopping experience for us.
Digital racks for apparel and accessories.
By using AI, retail brands can create virtual racks and trial rooms accompanied by gesture walls and touch-free monitors to find the right size and style, without rummaging through the piles of clothes. Customers can see how a dress looks on them and will be able to go through recommendations based on preferences and style quotient.
The introduction of these new technological innovations will not only enhance the shopping experience but will help the customers to choose from millions of options, which is currently not possible due to space limitations in a physical shop. With the help of AI, the store could be converted into a virtual inventory of designs and draping ideas that the customers could choose from.
Virtual trial rooms for quick decision making.
While shopping for apparels, trying out different options and waiting in the trial room ques can be a little frustrating and time-consuming. With virtual trial rooms equipped with digital mirrors, customers can see how a dress looks on them without even trying it physically again and again.
With the help of the touch-based interface, a shopper can create a mix of various outfits, accessories, and shoes to finalize the perfect look within minutes. The same technology can be used by makeup stores to avoid applying the products on the face and removing them.
Robotic/digital assistants are the future.
Using smart analytics and natural language processing technology, retailers can give customers the power to get instant support, inside the stores. By placing robots and touch panels across the stores, the customers can locate an item, get answers to their questions and find out if the product can cater to their needs or not.
Additionally, stores can reduce their manpower costs and provide 24x7 assistance to the customers. Not only will it improve customer service levels but will attract more buyers to the store in 2019.
Improve in-store security.
Studying customer behavior inside the store itself will help the retailers understand the engagement level of the current layout of the store. With the help of video analytics, retailers can increase security inside the store and reduce the chances of theft and shoplifting. The surveillance recordings could be monitored in real-time and store-owners will be alerted immediately.
Better customer support via chatbots.
Smart and witty AI-powered chatbots will enable retail brands to engage with the customers efficiently. Brands will be able to handle thousands of queries without having to employ a large workforce. These chatbots can be configured to answer questions accordingly, provide suggestions and customer support. A mix of chatbots and humans will be efficient in handling customers and provide better solutions to their problems.
Some brands have already started using AI to make the customer experience better, here’s how:
1. Lowes Uses Robots To Locate Items
Famous hardware store Lowes has created the LoweBot. The LowBot is a smart AI-powered bot that assists the customers in finding their way around the store and get items they need. The LoweBot can be seen roaming around the store and asking customers questions to help them find what they are looking for. These bots also monitor inventory, provide directions and maps and share special knowledge about products with customers.
2. Walgreens Uses AI To Track Flu Spread.
Because flu is spread through the air and can be highly uncomfortable, Walgreens, the drug store, uses data from many anti-viral prescriptions it fills at more than 8,000 locations to track the spread of flu. The online interactive map helps customers know how bad the fu is in their area and also help Walgreens to stock inventory of flu-related products in the infected regions.
3. Sephora Makes It Easy to Find The Perfect Makeup.
The Color IQ at Sephora scans the customer’s face and provides personalized recommendations for foundation and concealer shades, while Lip IQ does the same for lipstick. This eliminates the need for putting anything on the face to try out and saves time. Most importantly, it saves the customers from the stressful process of finding the perfect shade by trial and error.
4. Taco Bell Helps Customers Order Tacos On The Go
Taco Bell is the first restaurant to allow customers to order food directly through AI. The company has its Tacobot, that works with Slack and makes it easy for the customers to text or speak out their order. The bot also allows customization for larger orders and responds with a witty pun at the end of every order.