How AI is Impacting the Brick and Mortar Customer Experience


Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a predominant theme in retail over the last few years, with the most publicized applications in the e-commerce arena. Yet 85% of shoppers still prefer the advantages of the brick-and-mortar experience. That’s why savvy retailers are making huge investments in transforming ordinary trips to the store into awe-inspiring, memorable experiences.

With that in mind, here are practical ways in which retailers can use AI to improve in-store experiences to entertain and deepen connections with their customers.

Does this look good on me?

By combing data collection with machine learning tools, some retailers are using AI to offer shoppers services that once required a personal stylist.

One example of this is Alibaba’s FashionAI technology, which iconic lifestyle brand Guess recently piloted. FashionAI fitting rooms with are equipped with large screens. It recognizes what shoppers are trying on (thanks to tiny sensors embedded in each garment).

The system uses deep learning to understand the tastes of both individual shoppers and offer personalized suggestions. The screen, then, shows items tailored to each shopper’s tastes. Shoppers can swipe through options and approve or reject them. The suggestions adjust with the feedback and grow smarter over time. Once the shopper approves a look, an attendant delivers the selection and assists as needed.

If finding and retaining in-store talent is a challenge, or if sufficiently staffing your stores is draining your bottom line, a tool like FashionAI can help ensure you deliver shoppers an efficient and personalized shopping experience.

The price is right.

Consumers first encountered dynamic pricing when buying flights or booking hotel rooms online. Now many retailers (including Amazon) use algorithms to change prices by the second. The algorithms take factors like demand, time of day, competitor prices and location into account to help retailers maximize profits.

A simple Google search allows shoppers to compare prices for online retailers with the touch of a button. In order to keep up, brick-and-mortar retailers must bring the same dynamic pricing capabilities they offer on their websites into their stores. Enter the invention of electronic shelf edge labels paired with AI capabilities.

Retailers like Walmart and Target can now change prices in their stores throughout the day. Although customers are ready to embrace dynamic pricing in stores, the operational and financial demands of doing so prove a logistical hurdle too great for some retailers.

In-store hardware requires an upfront investment. Yet as this technology evolves to be more affordable and have a smaller footprint, it will continue to be something to consider.

After all, the benefits of in-store dynamic pricing go beyond attracting shoppers.

With store associates freed from the repetitive task of setting and changing prices, they can turn their attention to interacting with shoppers.

Level the playing field

AI helps brick-and-mortar retailers offer shoppers the personalized experiences and competitive prices to which they’ve grown accustomed. If you can accomplish this seamlessly while retaining the built-in experiential advantages and instant gratification available at physical stores, then you’ve set yourself up nicely to compete in the new retail landscape.

-Joe Lee is on the marketing team at CB4, a global leader in retail technology using AI and machine learning to solve costly in-store execution issues.


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