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Reimagining the Retail Experience

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By Rashna Mahzabin

AI for customized and personalized solutions

Artificial Intelligence has been the hottest and most promising development in the tech landscape for a couple of years, now. Global AI revenues will see massive growth from just USD 643.7 million in 2016 to an excess of USD 36.8 billion in 2025, according to a survey conducted by market firm Tractica. Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming several sectors of the economy such as automotive, marketing and healthcare. Retail could be next.

Brick-and-mortar sales aren’t fading anytime soon— it’s projected that 83% of goods purchased globally in 2022 will still be bought in-store according to Euromonitor International. As brick-and-mortar stores are making a comeback with millennials and Generation Z, updating in-store technology is the optimal way to improve the real-world shopping experience.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a key element in the digitalization of in-store retail by personalizing the customer experience and creating a more engaged business-to-consumer interaction. For retail companies, AI creates an opportunity to bridge the gap between virtual and physical sales channels.

Digitally connected retail locations are facilitating unique customer experiences and can sustain competitiveness over time. But, to make the reinvention of in-store shopping worthwhile, “brick-and-mortar 2.0” simply won’t cut it. Brands need to reimagine the total in-store experience, and technology is key. In-store technologies must be able to solve business processes and incorporate planning and strategy, rather than just implementing flashy, PR-driven technology. It’s crucial that retailers effectively merge technology and function, which is why AI is at the forefront of in-store tech.

According to Global Market Insights, investments in AI by retail segment will exceed USD 8 billion by 2024. As more applications for machine learning, predictive analytics, and deep learning technologies have experimented with success, digital disruption in the retail segment is bound to happen at a much rapid pace.

Globally, AI experts believe that technology offers a wide range of applications for the retail segment. In the coming year, retail will see a greater infusion of AI-based solutions in day-to-day operations. AI will definitely change the customer service cycle in retail and both retailers, as well as the consumers, are bound to benefit from it.

All about AI
Artificial intelligence, at its core, focuses on making machines intelligent or capable of solving problems as well as people can. Today, AI is able to make machines learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, and perform human-like tasks. It quickly combines large sets of data with fast, iterative processing and detailed algorithms, which allow the program to learn automatically from patterns in the data.

But what does AI mean for retailers? No matter how big or small the retail location, many businesses can benefit from integrating AI into their daily functions. From daily task management to gaining customer insights, AI is the foundation of technology in a retail setting. Utilizing artificial intelligence can free up time for business owners by completing daily tasks, which allows them to dedicate more time to advancing their overall business strategy. In addition, AI can even gather detailed customer patterns and preferences, which make for more informed business decisions in the long run. When customer and sales data is processed through these algorithms, the AI model discovers actionable information about a business and its customers and inventory.

The AI Impact
Artificial Intelligence can serve as a boon for retail companies that gather and possess customer data. AI can derive meaningful conclusions from a massive amount of data and help companies to create personalized shopping experiences via highly-structured web shops, intelligent in-store bots, and online chatbots. AI will transform the retail experience in 2019. With the help of AI technology, apparel retail brands can create virtual racks and trial rooms with gesture walls and touch-free monitors to find the right style, without having to shuffle through a pile. Customers can instantly see how a dress would look on them and can browse through recommendations based on their preferences and style quotient.

All this will not only enhance the shopping experience but will help customers to choose from millions of options, that is currently not possible due to space constraints inside a physical store. With AI, a store can be converted into a bustling repository of design and draping ideas that users can choose from. Also, stores will be able to gather deeper insights into consumer behavior, optimizing their product portfolio for much better retail experience delivery.

AI-backed Surveillance
Using AI, smart analytics and natural language processing technology, retail stores can give customers the power to get instant support, inside the stores. By placing robots and touch panels, stores can help customers locate an item, get answers to their queries and find out how a product can make their life easier.
With the help of customer service bots powered by AI, stores can reduce their manpower costs and provide round-the-clock assistance to the customers. Not only will it improve customer service levels but will definitely attract more buyers to the store in 2019.

Experiential retail
As e-commerce disrupts the traditional brick-and-mortar sales channel, retail will transform into an “experiential retail” model. Just as e-commerce sites are providing a revolutionized customer experience, in-store retailers must follow suit. Environments that attract and excite customers are supported by technological components, which are beneficial to both business and consumer. Moving forward, retailers will continue to employ cutting-edge technology, like artificial intelligence, in order to provide personalized offerings and engaging environments.

Better Customer Support via Chatbots
AI-powered chatbots are enabling retail brands to engage customers, efficiently. With the help of chatbots, brands can handle thousands of queries simultaneously, without having to employ a large workforce.

Chatbots can be configured to answer questions, provide shopping suggestions and provide prompt support. Using a mixture of AI chatbots and humans, brands will be able to effectively handle customers and provide users with a better resolution of their problem. When customers will get prompt and personalized attention, they will engage deeply with the brand, paving way for enhanced customer loyalty.

AI will increase promotion efficiency and reduce customer complaints. AI can boost promotion efficiency by enabling automated ad buying, personalizing customers’ online experiences and serving users targeted recommendations. Retail and payment firms have used AI to spot fraudulent charges and give high churning customers a more personalized online experience in an attempt to improve customer satisfaction and reduce complaints. AI is will revolutionize the retail industry by making it cost-effective to deliver a completely personalized, immersive and optimized experience for every individual consumer at a massive scale.

All these scenarios are not just a fantasy but will be experienced by retail shoppers in the coming years. Artificial Intelligence will rule the retail domain and help brands become more customer-centric and efficient in retail operations

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