Decoding the AI Era in Retail

October 16, 2018

By Joseph Brannon and Sriramoju Venkatesh

When Apple introduced Siri as an app for IOS in 2010 it seemed more of a novelty for the “gadget geeks” rather than an entry into artificial intelligence driven retailing as a serious platform for shoppers interested in technology rich experiences. Indeed, it’s become quite common to communicate with voice activated devices before, during and after the consumer makes a purchase.

Consumers are using natural language voice assistants to research products, add products to shopping list, make purchases, track packages, provide ratings & reviews, contact support and reorder items. With AI driven consumer interactions increasing exponentially it’s no wonder retailers are eager to embrace this trend that will eventually overtake mobile devise browsing based shopping. It makes sense, too, since artificial intelligence (AI) is the perfect instrument for enabling easier interactions with customers and selling products as part of the unified buying journey. The facts: the average American English speaker can speak at a rate of 110-125 words-per-minute, compared to typing on average between 38 to 40 words per minute.

The emergence of robots and AI is good news for the retailers: artificial intelligence is a huge asset for improving the customer experience with contextual natural language interactions. These trends require attention from retailers globally to stay competitive, yet it is just one example how AI is changing retailing – read below for additional trends.

Four AI Focused Developments in Digital Retail:

1. AI Driven User Experiences

AI driven user experience and product placement using AI analyzed data will become the norm. Based on previous purchases, search habits, their page flow, demographics, IP location, and other variables; self-learning algorithms will power product suggestions and present the “best-fit” product at the optimal location in the shopping funnel. Elements of the site itself, such as the layout, placement and images will constantly evolve based on the user’s behavior. AI will drive the future of content driven retailing to maximize the user experience.

2. Natural Voice Shopping

Increasing retailers are using chat bots and chat applications to search product, filter and refine search results, engage customer service, and add products to the Cart – resulting in increased conversion. The key difference is that the voice experience must integrate across the other interaction in a seamless manner to avoid a disjoined experience. For example; a user leaving a text-based interaction should be able to pick-up with voice at the drop-off point. If a consumer is placing items into their cart via a desktop device the shopping funnel should continue seamlessly using voice assisted devices.

3. Unique Marketing

Traditional “broadcasted” marketing campaigns through channels like TV, radio and social media are expensive and inefficient when considering the ROI: the same message sent to the masses is no longer enough to create the rationale and emotional momentum needed to increase conversion in a media saturated environment. AI will empower unique marketing capabilities affordably that serves the retailers customer segments and programmatically optimizes the message based on responses. AI will enable retailers to identify which customer segments are best for a given campaign, better match customers to products, and prevent recent out-of-stock products from being promoted. AI will allow retailers to personalize messages to every customer in a meaningful manner to increase interactions. Imagine the day when the retailer sends fewer emails while realizing increased revenue – that “day” is now.

4. Personalized Loyalty

As a customer, AI driven personalization means promotional deals and loyalty programs tailored to and individuals’ patterns. For instance, the product price will be optimized based on the consumers behavior through discounting or promotions, and competitors pricing. Additionally, in the near future (more) retail stores will use facial recognition software to trace customers in-store visits and push real-time promotions.

The loyalty programs will also become more personalized with AI. As a result, each customer can earn loyalty points in a unique way that fits their experiences, and the rewards will be tailored to their interests. Marketers will be able to make their loyalty program stand-out of the crowd and deliver greater ROI.

AI is enabling retailers to harness the potential of the hidden patterns in data that is impossible to do by analyzing cognitive behavior at scale. AI changes the rules of retailing by recognizing patterns and providing contextual behavior trends – and it’s happening today.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

At TA Digital, Joe Brannon, develops strategies for growth, innovation, and execute commerce and omnichannel solutions for clients using digital technology to enhance the customer experience. For more than 15 years Joe has been a digital transformational thought and implementation leader for large multi-national brands across the B2C, B2B, Retail and Customer Care Center landscape. Joe has held various digital technology leadership and consulting positions at Starbucks, Oakley, Billabong, The Irvine Company, and State Street. In academia, Joe has been teaching business and project management for almost a decade. He holds a master’s degree with an emphasis in Technology Management and a B.S. Business Systems degree from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

Contact: [email protected]

Sriramoju Venkatesh is a Software Engineer for TA Digital and is a part of E-commerce Domain (ElasticPath). Venkatesh holds a Graduate Degree (B.tech – CSE) from VNR Vignana Jyothi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Hyderabad. Venkatesh has experience in ECommerce domain using ElasticPath technology as a platform, Java/J2EE, and client customized frameworks. His hobbies include playing table tennis, cricket, and carroms.

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TA Digital is an innovative digital transformation agency, specializing in delivering digital experience, commerce, and marketing solutions. For nearly two decades, we have been helping traditional businesses transform and create dynamic digital cultures through disruptive strategies and agile deployment of innovative solutions. We are known as a global leader in the digital technology industry for helping marketing leaders achieve their revenue targets, create profitable, omni-channel customer and commerce experiences. TA Digital has high-level strategic partnerships with digital technology companies AdobeMicrosoftSitecoreAcquiaMarketoSAP HybrisElastic Path, IBM Watson Marketing, Coveo and Episerver. The company was named on 2013, 2014, 2015 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the United States.