Few industries have been as impacted by artificial intelligence as retail. How exactly is AI transforming retail, including e-commerce?
Ever since Artificial Intelligence (AI) breathe life, its deep neural networks have been exponentially disrupting technologies and driving innovation through pattern analyzation. For a perpetually evolving technology, setting footprints over business spheres was painless and did not spare traditional brick and mortar stores to online retailers. AI has been mutating customer engagement and refashioning customer experience to a different realm. Here are the different ways AI is refurbishing offline and online shopping experience in retail and e-commerce space.
Online retail businesses have been in continuous flux of customer retention. Retailers try to be on-the-go with manually intensive tools to keep their customers continuously engaged with brand, giving them right impulse to engage, visit and shop more. Brands are scrutinizing data to correlate patterns of buyer behavior and market the best fitting merchandise for customers, contrary to the traditional way of dumping every product on the customer. Consumer needs are dynamic and AI has the power to continuously learn and improve as per changing customer preferences, and thus AI holds high relevance than manually-intensive tools in use.
Disruptive technologies are altering shopping experience through predicting buying patterns of customers and suggesting their next buy with similar products. Search patterns evolved from texts to pictures which activate search algorithm to offer a wide gamut of products through comparison with the searched image.
One real life example for the same is Online travel retailers. Travel websites provides with the most relevant results of flights, hotels, places to visit and cab services based on past searches for travel needs. Travel retailers have already deployed AI solutions based on their value proposition to improve the customer experience in the travel industry.
Retailers are also expanding product reach by recommending the neighboring retail counterpart for the searched product which offers better shopping experience. AI also delivers insights to decision makers, assisting them in forecasting demand and creating supply for the forthcoming trend, which essentially helps in strategizing end to end planning from manufacturing to supply chain.
AI is changing offline retail spaces as well and launch of Amazon GO highlights the potential it holds for creating future retail spaces. Amazon recently launched Amazon GO after acquiring Whole Foods for USD 13.7 billion in cash. Amazon plans for future grocery stores aligns with AI technologies like Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. The futuristic store from Amazon works on predicting your movements across the store and your buying searches on Amazon.com. Customers can directly choose products, put them in the cart and leave the store, payments and products picked by them are going to be automatically tracked by Amazon GO itself. The real-world example of Amazon Go says about the complete picture how AI can transform offline retail spaces in near-future.
A customer is a king, but a king has his council. Likewise, customers’ need to be advised on products and other value adds to drive sales. AI has revolutionized customer services through Chatbots and virtual assistants enabling instant feedbacks. Virtual assistance overrides traditional customer services with less human interaction offering tailored suggestions and enhanced customer relationship through immediate and accurate feedbacks. AI also delivers real-time notifications for discounts, price hikes and product availability creating more window of opportunity for the customer to shop at best prices. It can also automate purchases and transactions which save the customer from dynamic pricing by businesses.
Mezi is one such intelligent virtual shopping assistant working on AI and helping customers in finding out right product at right prices. Mezi works on AI using Natural Language Processing to provide users with shopping assistants with few text messages. Mezi is changing selling and buying experiences across the industries in online shopping. Right from tracking down hotels worldwide to finding right-fit sneakers and booking trips, Mezi powered by AI does it all.
Artificial Intelligence with the right blend of AR and VR technologies are altering shopping experiences through extensive personalization. AI’s self – learning algorithms are drawing insights from big data to reconstruct virtual shopping experience for buyers ranging from virtual mirrors to gesture recognition. Such virtual reality platforms increase customer engagement and boost buyer’s confidence for a product which they haven’t witnessed in person.
For instance, Cambridge Technology Enterprises helps retail conglomerates in harnessing information on customer’s buying behavior from data sets and thereby re-engineering their products and services to fit into customer’s expectation.
From virtual assistance to customized service packages, AI has transformed shopping into a magical experience minimizing efforts for buyers and sellers. With this growing pace of AI technologies, the concept of the right product to the right person at the right time will gain prominence and shopping will remain yet another (virtual) hobby for humans.
(The author is Chairman, Cambridge Technology Enterprises)
Wednesday, August 9, 2017