Boosting Retail Sales with AI – Artificial Intelligence
AI is more than just a tech acronym for a program that does some calculations. To qualify as artificial intelligence, it must learn and grow based on new information added to past knowledge and experiences.
It not only records recent data, it adapts and suggests new conclusions. In many ways, this is exactly what retail businesses and their marketers want from software: something with human-like intuition but also the ability to churn thousands of customers’ worth of data when called upon.
Far from a one-form solution, artificial intelligence is being used in a wide variety of ways in just the retail industry alone – from voice-activated personal assistants to invisible grocery clerks.
Everyone’s heard about Amazon’s ventures into experimental technology. With their large pool of discretionary funds, Amazon has every reason to invest in innovation.
Starting with the modest Dash buttons that auto-reorder something for you, they expanded to warehouse shopping and have recently sent out fleets of delivery drones.
On top of all this, they’ve started playing with artificial intelligence, but not in the way you’d expect. Rather than flaunting their AI with voice interaction or shopping suggestions, they’re experimenting with helpful background assistance.
If you haven’t heard of it, one of Amazon’s newest experiments, Amazon Go, is a fully automated grocery store. Customers still walk the aisles picking things up while the sensors that permeate the store and an adaptive AI track what they’ve grabbed (and what they’ve put back) and charge them for it as they exit – no cashiers or checkout lines required.
While the original Amazon Go design was tested in Seattle only, their recent acquisition of Whole Foods could lead to AI automated grocery stores across the country, allowing customers to personally browse the aisles or order deliveries with the help of artificial intelligence both on and offline.
The reigning king of coffee shops has really gone above and beyond in bringing their customers technologically assisted retail experiences. They, too, dreamed of creating a store without waiting lines, and originally implemented the simple but amazingly convenient Mobile Order & Pay app, which allows customers to order coffee and pay for it while on their way over, only needing to be in the shop long enough to pick it up at the counter.
Starbucks recently introduced a new feature, paired with Amazon’s Alexa platform, known as My Starbucks Barista. This voice-activated AI assistant can remember your usual order, make intelligent suggestions on what else you might like, and place the order for you in a nearby location, all from vocal commands.
For the user experience, this is a superb evolution. Even if you like your coffee on the road, drivers can use this hands-free AI barista to have their coffee fresh and ready for them as they walk in the door or loop the drive-through.
AI in Lingerie
For another twist on retail AI, a clever lingerie brand has begun quietly using AI to help them build their email subscribers and pinpoint which items should be marketed to individual customers.
Emarsys, their helpful AI marketing team member, will examine past behaviour of every customer on their email subscriber list to determine how to distribute pin-pointed discounts.
When it thinks someone will probably use a coupon, it sends the discount offer via email. It’s no wonder their number of email subscribers has gone through the roof!
This is the discount service every customer has been waiting for: coupons for what they want, when they want it, with no unappealing junk promotions in their inbox. This innovation is saving Cosabella money too, as it allows them to avoid overspending created by blanket discounts.
With this much variety, it’s hard to say where retail AI will take us next. While the most likely future developments will involve easier shopping and more impulse purchases, for all we know, the next Amazon or Google development will be a personal cartoon AR AI who offers advice on everything from relationships to eating habits.
Whatever comes next, it’s sure to be interesting. But if this kind of stuff makes your head spin, and you’re concerned about configuring and managing the technology around it all, talk to us here at This Solution about the ways we can guide you through the maze.
The world is changing whether we like it or not, and businesses who aren’t paying attention risk being left behind while others continually reinvent themselves to take advantage of these amazing opportunities.