Artificial Intelligence, abbreviated as AI, has been at the centre stage of business innovation since quite a few years now. It shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Instead, going by the recent trends, its adoption is expected to increase manifolds in the next couple of years. The rapidly growing competition in the retail industry requires the players to consistently innovate with their consumer products. They need to improve the efficiency of business processes and improve decision-making – exactly what AI is equipped to help them achieve. This will ensure consumer loyalty and further increase their base, helping them to stay buoyant in the challenging retail market conditions.
A recent report titled “The coming AI revolution in retail and consumer products” conducted by the global IT company, IBM, predicts a bright future for AI-powered innovations. Conducted at the 2019 Big Show, which was hosted by National Retail Federation, the study included participants from 1,900 retail and consumer products from 23 countries.
Let’s take a look at the salient points of the report that was released by IBM’s Business Value.
- 79% of consumer products and 85% of retail organizations that participated in the survey revealed their plans of integrating AI in their existing better supply chain planning by the year 2021.
- Two out of five retailers already use AI, and the number is expected to become double by 2021.
- The retailers surveyed believe that AI may push up their annual revenue growth by a significant 10%.
- Artificial Intelligence plays an important role in automating demand forecasting and customer engagement.
The human brain is more than just an organ – it is a complex system that helps humans to analyze information and take simplified decisions in various situations. But it cannot always gauge all the possible outcomes of a decision and hence our decision-making ability gets limited in certain circumstances. But what we cannot achieve with the powerof our brain is today being achieved by applying Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is much more than neural networks and complex algorithms; it involves enabling machines to take appropriate decisions in all possible circumstances.
With the huge amount of data being transmitted from electronic devices every day, it becomes imperative for the data-driven organizations to collect and identify a pattern in them. But, what exactly could be the advantage of collecting and analyzing data? Well, to predict the future it is necessary to understand the past and the present.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Artificial Intelligence is physical retail. It is facing immense competition from e-Commerce portals, which not only provide user-friendly shopping experiences but also come up with relevant suggestions for future purchases. The need of the hour for physical retailers, therefore, is to revamp their business processes and come up with innovative measures to provide a more than satisfying customer experience along with an efficient stock management strategy. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help achieve both. Here is a brief overview of how AI can help drive transformation in physical retail.
- Collecting relevant data: Data collection forms the backbone of AI. According to some of the industry stalwarts, “there can be no direct leap to artificial intelligence if substantial and relevant data is not being collected”. Most of the physical retailers lack the indigenous technology to collect and process large chunks of data by themselves. But that should not be considered as a hindrance to AI as there are efficient retail solutions like ETP V5 that can help them collect and process relevant and authentic data.
- Personalization: AI can be thought of as a complex algorithm that consists of all possible ‘if-then’ conditions. These conditions can be identified in various ways such as shopping cart analysis, payment preferences and surveys among others. The analysis performed can be used for managing product assortment, customer-specific promotions, and other loyalty programs. Personalization will ensure repeat footfall, which in turn will ensure a healthy bottom line.
- Supply chain and inventory management: If a retailer is able to collect relevant data, it becomes easier to maintain a healthy supply chain along with an efficient inventory management system. If the retailer wishes to sell the right product to the right customer at the right time and place, managing inventory across all channels becomes most important. This is indeed a mammoth task that can be eased out using an efficient Omni-channel Retail Solution like ETP V5 which can identify hidden patterns in the customer’s buying behavior and provide relevant suggestions to maintain the right inventory. Maintaining and managing supply chain and inventory are the backbone of a profitable retail venture.
AI has started revolutionizing the way in which physical retailers go about taking business decisions and with the enhancement of customer’s technical abilities, it can be safely claimed that AI will play an important role in the future of retail.
Personalization in retail is definitely not a new concept. Retailers have explored it in many ways over the years to improve shopping experience for the customers. While other retailers simply managed greeting returning customers by their name, Amazon has been one of the pioneers of personalization in retail with its ability to show different and relevant home pages for different customers based on their past clickstream paths and buying history. However, such rudimentary approaches are now considered the starting point for modern day retail marketers.
Customers are savvier than they were a few years ago. Personalization is not a need for them anymore, it is an expected norm. And retail brands must rise to the occasion to exceed this expectation. This may seem an extremely challenging task but with the proliferation of data analytics and implementation of machine learning and artificial intelligence, retail personalization can be majorly resurged.
To begin with, a very basic and brief preview into how AI works; AI uses comprehensive algorithms and logics to find trends in available data be it internal or third party and then helps analyze those trends to derive patterns that can be associated to shopping behaviors and customer personas. Utilizing machine learning that operates on probability and statistics, adjustments can be made in data sets to achieve the best outcome when it comes to creating the right marketing message for each individual customer.
Application of AI driven process in retail marketing and promotion campaigns will not only help retailers acquire new customers, but also boost repeat business. Increased accuracy in personalized communication to the customers along with tailored recommendations and offers will compel shoppers to strengthen their loyalty as they will begin to associate the retail brand with personalized, relevant experiences.
For retail personalization, the future seems to be pretty exciting. Leveraging the potential of Artificial Intelligence, there are limitless possibilities to notch up personalization to levels beyond the imagination of the customer. Infusing AI in marketing will be the differentiating factor for retail marketers that look to stand out from the horde of advertising and marketing communication targeting shoppers.