Harnessing the Advantages of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Retail Sector

Artificial Intelligence has forever been the term that people associated with Hollywood movies. Today, with the latest discoveries in the field of Artificial Intelligence, its applications in various segments are taking all industries by storm and that includes the retail sector. Now, you either live with AI or you just ‘leave’ the ‘show’. AI is changing the parameters of the retail industry and the perks that it brings for those who embrace it.

The concept that caught peoples imagination for the first time in 1927, was in the German movie Metropolis where Maria’s double robot showed the first signs of Artificial Intelligence. Since that time, we have been witnessing characters displaying Artificial Intelligence either as a protagonist or as an essential part of the film. But now we are caught in an age where the AI isn’t just a part of some movie script anymore. The age of AI is upon us and it is all set to change how we manage our retail environment.

Among all the industries, the retail sector is going through an unprecedented change. There are challenges of keeping up with the demands of a whole new generation that’s fickle and lack of attention, a generation that likes to channel-hop.

With the advance of consumer applications like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa, AI showed the world, in concrete terms, what it is capable of. What we should realize here, is that asking Alexa to add merchandise to your shopping list isn’t everything that AI can do. Even at its present state, AI can do a lot more for the retail industry. However, it remains largely unutilized.

We have come a long way from Google’s Go Champion Alpha Go. We have self-driven cars and machines that can recognize human faces even better than humans. With Tech giants like Tesla, Apple, Google, and Facebook investing in AI, all these advancements are happening at a very rapid pace.

There has also been much confusion amongst all sectors about the benefits and limitations of AI. Most of all, the retail sector has been wary of implementing the solutions brought by AI into their business operations.

The retail sector is in an immediate need to gap the data bridge and embrace AI. According to leading industry experts, within the next 3 to 4 years more than 85% of all customer interactions will be managed by AI.

Today, e-commerce retailers are considered as data powerhouses. Form behavioral data to personal data, everything is right at their fingertips. No, they don’t steal that information from you, rather they keep a note of everything that you do while signing in and engaging with multiple platforms. This is the greatest arsenal that the retail sector can possibly have. Since people now tend to get everything customised, just the way they like it, AI can seamlessly provide them what they want with the help of all the available data.

AI is capable of harnessing all the data and utilizing it at an individual level and in real time. In order to get the picture, just imagine an AI shopping assistant that pops up the moment you log in into your Amazon account. Now, this assistant will know all about your likes and dislikes and will be able to make recommendations based on your shopping habits. It will assist you to find what you are looking for in a way that is far more comprehensive than a Human Salesman.

The onus is upon the retailers now, who should get beyond fragmented views of their shoppers, invest in IT infrastructure and enhance their soft skills. The traditional tactics of offering simple discounts and giving a lackluster product recommendation will not be able to save them from the coming onslaught of ‘time’. So, better prepare or perish.

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