Is a friendly robot going to bring you the perfect pair of hiking boots after taking a digital scan of your feet, guaranteeing the perfect fit?
We’re not quite there but we’re on the way… and artificial intelligence (AI) is already shaking things up in the retail industry.
The retail industry has always been a pioneer in adopting new technologies to meet consumer demands. Recently, AI has become a game-changer in retail, transforming how retailers work and improving the shopping experience.
Though it's tricky to predict how exactly the future with this new tech will unfold, you can already see stores making moves to tap into its power.
From tailoring personalized shopping recommendations to orchestrating supply chain optimization and beyond, AI is gradually changing how the retail industry operates.
How are Top Retailers Using AI Today?
Let’s take a look at how some top retail brands are utilizing AI capabilities.
Amazon Go Store
Walk in, grab what you want, and walk out. Your Amazon cart is charged automatically.
Customers enjoy a seamless shopping experience. The elimination of traditional checkout lines saves time, providing a convenient and efficient way to shop.
Robots handle online/in-store order pick-ups. Punch in your pick-up code, and the robot fetches your order.
This service reduces waiting time for customers, making the order pick-up process quicker and more convenient.
LoweBot helps customers navigate the store, providing directions, maps, and product knowledge. Manages inventory and restocking too. Customers receive personalized assistance while navigating the store, making it easier to find the products they’re looking for. LoweBot's inventory management ensures better product availability and timely restocking.
Snap.Find.Shop allows users to snap pictures of items and search store inventory for the same or similar products. Shoppers can easily find desired items using visual search technology. It enhances the discovery of products and provides a more interactive and engaging shopping experience.
Smart mirrors with AI touchscreens. Browse clothing, and try them on in interactive fitting rooms with customizable lighting. Mirrors use RFID technology to track items and suggest other sizes/colors. Customers can try on clothing and receive personalized suggestions, enhancing the overall shopping experience. RFID technology ensures accurate tracking of items.
AI app tailored for each store, offering directions and inventory info specific to that location. Shoppers get location-specific information, making it easier to navigate the store.
Interactive fitting rooms! Scan items to request different sizes or check store inventory. Customers can easily request different sizes and check inventory without leaving the fitting room. It streamlines the clothing selection process and enhances the overall shopping experience.
AI analyzes store receipts to manage inventory based on sell-throughs and returns. Inventory management based on customer behavior ensures better stock availability and minimizes stockouts.
Uses cognitive computing to ask customers about coat usage and outdoor activities, providing personalized recommendations based on their specific needs and preferences, leading to a more personalized and satisfying shopping experience.
Robots scan shelves for missing products, track restocking needs, and identify price tag changes.
Improved shelf management ensures product availability and accurate pricing.
Pinterest-style finder scans your Pinterest boards and recommends home decor/furniture matching your style. Customers receive personalized recommendations based on their style preferences, making it easier to find home decor and furniture that aligns with their tastes.
UMood kiosks survey customers and recommend products based on their reactions. The device works by having customers sit in front of a screen while wearing a brain-computer-interface headset. It shows a range of images and videos, then scans the neurological responses to these stimuli. Using a sophisticated algorithm, the customer is matched to a short list of T-shirt designs.
Personalized Shopping Recommendations
One of the most noticeable ways AI has transformed the retail landscape is through personalized shopping recommendations.
AI algorithms analyze customer data, including past purchase history, browsing behavior, preferences, and even social media, to suggest products that are highly relevant to individual shoppers.
This not only helps customers discover new products but also increases the chances of making a purchase.
Retail giants like Amazon have been using AI-powered recommendation engines for years, resulting in increased sales and customer satisfaction. Smaller retailers are also harnessing the power of AI to provide tailored product suggestions, ultimately driving higher conversion rates.
Enhanced Customer Service
AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming increasingly prevalent in retail, providing 24/7 customer support.
These AI-powered helpers can answer customer inquiries, assist with product recommendations, and even handle returns and refunds, all while freeing up human employees to focus on more complex tasks.
By offering instant responses and consistent service, AI-driven customer support improves customer satisfaction and reduces operational costs for retailers.
Inventory Management and Demand Forecasting
Efficient inventory management is crucial for retailers to meet customer demand while minimizing excess inventory.
AI algorithms analyze historical sales data, market trends, and even external factors like weather and holidays to predict future demand accurately. This allows retailers to optimize their stock levels, reducing the risk of overstocking or running out of popular items.
Walmart, for instance, uses AI to optimize its supply chain, resulting in significant cost savings and better stock availability.
Visual Search and Augmented Reality
Visual search and augmented reality (AR) are transforming the way consumers discover and try products. AI-powered visual search allows customers to upload images of products they like, and AI algorithms find similar items in the retailer's inventory. This simplifies the shopping process and enhances the customer's ability to find the perfect item.
Additionally, AR applications enable customers to "try on" clothing or visualize how furniture will look in their homes before making a purchase. This immersive experience enhances customer confidence in their choices and reduces the likelihood of returns.
Fraud Detection and Loss Prevention
AI plays a vital role in retail security by identifying fraudulent activities and preventing losses due to theft and fraud. Machine learning algorithms can analyze vast amounts of transaction data to detect unusual patterns and flag potentially fraudulent transactions in real-time.
Furthermore, AI-powered surveillance systems equipped with facial recognition technology can help retailers monitor store activity and identify known shoplifters, enhancing overall security.
AI Changing the Retail Game
Artificial intelligence has ushered in a new era of retail, transforming the industry in various ways, from personalized shopping recommendations to supply chain optimization and loss prevention.
As AI technology continues to advance, retailers that embrace these innovations will gain a competitive edge, delivering more personalized, efficient, and enjoyable shopping experiences for their customers.
The retail industry is evolving, and AI technology is at the forefront, shaping the future of shopping.