Success in the digital age requires an acute understanding of customer demand, ever-changing market conditions, omnichannel operations, and much more. To gain this level of insight retailers need to review and analyze mountains of data in real-time, a gigantic job that even a massive team of talented data analysts could never accomplish without help.
That assistance has come in the form of cutting-edge artificial intelligence solutions that supercharge every aspect of the retail enterprise. Retail today runs on data and only those retailers that are able to integrate AI-driven insight into their daily operations will survive in the ultra-competitive and constantly evolving retail landscape.
The artificial intelligence market is booming. The global AI market is more than doubling every year and expected to reach $35 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research. The value of AI is increasing at an exponential rate and retail is along for the ride, embracing its computing power and finding innovative ways of putting AI’s firepower to use. In fact, by 2020 artificial intelligence will be a mainstay in almost every new retail solution and an investment priority among 30% of CIOs, predicts Gartner in its “AI Technologies Will Be in Almost Every New Software Product by 2020” report.
When exploring the topic of artificial intelligence in retail the customer service chatbot is one of the first solutions that comes to mind. These conversational bots are prevalent throughout the industry in call centers, websites and chat windows answering questions and providing real-time engagement for on-the-go consumers.
Despite the fact that conversational bots are the most highly visible customer-facing AI technology in the field today, only 6% of retailers report having up-to-date chatbot technology in place on their e-commerce site, according to RIS’ “Fourth Annual Customer Engagement Tech Trends Study.”
While more than half of retailers (56%) are not convinced of the usefulness of chatbots and have no plans to implement the technology, you would be hard pressed to find a retailer that is not using or at least intrigued by the game-changing potential of artificial intelligence. The use cases for artificial intelligence continue to increase by the day ― marketing, supply chain, customer service, user experience, personalization ― and will continue to surge as retailers turn to artificial brainpower to transform the increasingly complex and various amounts of data they collect on an on-going basis into actionable insight.
Whether or not a retailer is currently implementing the technology, AI’s has forever altered the retail landscape. Fifty-four percent of retailers report they are experiencing disruption due to artificial intelligence, according to Infosys’ “Leadership in the Age of AI” report. In addition, the research reveals that 85% of retailers are currently using AI to automate business processes, and 83% believe their organization’s future business strategy will be influenced through AI’s various capabilities and opportunities.
AI is revolutionizing retail operations and retailers looking to reap the benefits of the still-emerging tech must restructure their organizations from the top down. Retailers need to embrace a data-fueled approach to running their businesses and must constantly fuel their AI engines with relevant data if they are going to receive the meaningful insights they desire.
“That is one of the key things retailers need to realize as they develop these models,” says Dan Mitchell, director, global retail & CPG practice, SAS. “The more data you can feed it, the more features you can extract. To keep this thing running day in and day out you need to feed it a constant stream of information and you need to be prepared to react and readjust.”
While a constant stream of incoming data is key to providing real-time useable insights that can help drive business decisions and operations, having the right data that aligns with the overall strategy of the project is critical.
"AI and practical AI is something retailers need to watch for," says Guy Yehiav, CEO and chairman of the board, Profitect. "It's not just data being run through machine analysis, it needs to be practical with some business sense to it. In addition, the wave of AI will continue to grow and the retailers that survive will have practical AI built for the mass of users instead of just PhD-type users."
These new-age, data-driven retailers are infusing their enterprises from top to bottom with actionable insight and sophisticated AI engines designed to make the enterprise smarter, faster and cheaper.