The retail industry is going through a digital transformation phase. There has been an improvement in the speed, efficiency, and accuracy of retail operations worldwide. This transformation is driven by the use of artificial intelligence in retail. AI and related technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics is helping retail business owners to cut down on costs, complete processes quickly, serve more customers, and increase their revenue.
In 2021, more than 28% of retailers are using artificial intelligence in some form or another to help them stay ahead of the competition. Comparing it with 4% of retailers in 2016, it is evident that the benefits of using AI are transcending across the entire industry. With an increase in online shopping and e-commerce websites, implementing advanced technologies in the business has become a necessity and something that can’t be pushed aside any longer.
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Use Cases of Artificial Intelligence in Retail
The shift to online shopping, changing customer demands, as well as the recent pandemic forced some changes in the retail industry. While AI was involved in different processes before as well, it has found several new use cases as well. Here’s a look at some of the ways AI is being used in the retail sector.
● Cashless Shopping
With innovative solutions like Amazon Go, shopping might be cashier-free in the future. With the use of IoT, sensors, and AI, companies are finding ways to allow users to put any product in their bag, pay on the go, and skip the hassle of being in line forever.
● Price Forecasting
A lot of retailers can benefit from predicting item prices accurately before there is a shift in market interest or customer demands. This will help them in staying ahead of the competition and offer products at attractive rates just as they are coming in demand to make more profit. This could be helpful for customers as well. They can enquire about hotel rates or travel expenses months in advance and still be accurate when the actual time to travel comes.
● Automated Customer Service
It is impossible to assign a customer service representative for every customer that is calling with a query. With AI and ML models, retailers can provide a quick resolution to frequently asked queries using Chatbots that don’t require human intervention. This allows them to focus on customers who are actually in need of support.
● Virtual Trials
Ever since the pandemic, malls and supermarkets in various areas are closed indefinitely. This puts a brake on buying things that need to try on before as physical trials are not possible. With the help of AI, however, retailers have come up with a new solution called virtual trials. Here users can virtually dress their AI models to see if a sunglass or dress will look good on them or not.
Why Use Artificial Intelligence in Retail
AI has the power to bring innovative changes to the retail industry. With many experts touting the end of brick-and-mortar stores due to the emergence of e-commerce players, retailers need to transform their business to stay relevant for the consumers. Creating a digital presence is the first step of this transformation and AI could be the catalyst for this process.
Customers want to lay hands on their ordered products as fast as they can. Through AI-based picking, packing, and shipping techniques, retailers can cut down on the time it takes for the whole order fulfillment journey to complete.
Inventory management can be such a hassle. Especially for retailers that have multiple warehouses and outlets to serve consumers. AI-driven warehouse management systems help retailers keep an accurate track of their inventory movement. It also alerts them on when to restock a product or when to stop ordering a particular stock as it not moving quickly and taking up warehouse space.
Manual tasks consume a lot of time and are prone to errors as well. Automating repetitive and mundane tasks will free your employees to perform revenue-driven tasks more and focus on fulfilling orders without any errors.
AI chatbots are the next big thing in customer service. They can resolve customer queries in a jiffy and provide them with just-in-time support throughout the day. This improves the brand image as a positive experience is something every customer looks for in a company.
With billions of dollars being invested in the advancement and adoption of artificial intelligence in retail and other sectors, listing out all the benefits and use cases can be a near-impossible task. Companies are constantly looking for ways AI can benefit humans and retailers are on the lookout for incorporating these solutions in their business. AI will be an invaluable asset in the future and a key building block for companies to stand out from their competitors.