The Robots are Coming. To Help Us Shop Better.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the rise, and it is here to forever change and disrupt our retail experience.
For over a decade, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been permeating conversations in the tech space, although many are unclear on the capabilities and impact that AI can have across industries. To put it simply, AI is the process in which human intelligence is mimicked through the creation and application of algorithms to make computers think and act like humans.
While it is difficult to pinpoint the true meaning of AI in the specifics, it is generally accepted that AI brings with it a promise of genuine human-to-machine interactions – to understand requests, connect data points, and draw conclusions relevant to their programmed intent.
Today, commercial businesses and public organisations are increasingly digitising their processes and functions through AI. In fact, Forbes anticipates a global AI revolution that will span various industries, with the retail industry being the most impacted. Therefore, as AI technology becomes more prevalent in today’s world, it may be time to begin thinking about the practical applications of AI in the fast-evolving landscape of the retail industry.
Providing customers with products quickly and efficiently
As AI becomes more sophisticated, its deep learning capabilities are starting to accurately anticipate and cater to customer wants, while also predicting current buying trends, preferences and needs. Today, retailers are not only equipped to provide customers with products more quickly and efficiently, but also to recommend relevant and related products.
Pinterest, for example, has been investing in AI to deliver highly personalised results to its 250 million monthly users. Deep learning technology streamlines user searches and drives recommendations based on previous searches. Users can even take photos of an object offline and receive recommendations; i.e. uploading a picture of an apple can give them anything from art to recipes.
Incorporating the modern-day shopping experience into daily living
The e-commerce market saturation sees consumers spoilt for choice as shopping has become more about optimising a task list that includes distance to store, price and shopping across vendors for the best deals. While the modern-day shopping cart is complex, AI can “rehumanise” the buying experience, personalising and curating product assortments and recommendations based on user lifestyle and preference.
Research has found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer the kind of experience that cater exactly to their needs. Understanding this, Jet.com – an e-commerce business stocking everyday essentials, has employed AI to fulfill orders with the most savings by sourcing the ideal merchant and warehouse combination personalised to its user’s needs, bridging the gap between traditional brick-and-mortar stores and new-age online vendors.
Maximizing profit while delivering innovative solutions to customers
For high-volume retailers, demand forecasting is central to sales and profit, with planning often being more art than science due to unpredictable and complex customer behaviors and diverse selling channels. To manage the large amounts of data, retailers apply predictive algorithms and machine learning with AI to replenish shelves, ensuring products offered will truly meet customer demand.
Central Bottling Co. (CBC), a beverage producer and the manufacturer for Coca-Cola and a wide range of drinks leverages AI to predict and understand rapid reactions and changes in the market with regards to customer requirements. This allows them to be more efficient in delivering high-quality products to thousands of retailers.
Understanding the importance of AI and its impact in the sector, NetApp, the data authority for hybrid cloud is enhancing the retail industry in innovative ways to transform the modern-day shopping experience, helping retailers worldwide become data thrivers.
With the wealth of opportunity held by data, NetApp can help businesses harness the value of data across industries, by managing data integration from edge to core to cloud and ensuring greater operational efficiency at reasonable costs. This allows brands to easily expand customer touchpoints and streamline operations through new innovations.
AI has and will continue to change retail. In the year ahead, we will see a wider adoption of AI across the retail industry, to provide hyper-personalisation and optimisation in business operations and customer experiences. Above all, we are at an inflection point where we are seeing the benefits of AI in the here-and-now, and not just a futuristic and unattainable Hollywood aspiration.
NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. We provide a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with our partners, we empower global organizations to unleash the full potential of their data to expand customer touchpoints, foster greater innovation, and optimize their operations. For more information, visit www.netapp.com. #DataDriven