As technology becomes more advanced, we can be sure to see an increase in the use of artificial intelligence in all arenas. With the increasing competition from e-tail stores, how can retailers use it to boost in-store experience for consumers?
In 2013, Walmart-owned Asda was the first company to introduce Black Friday to the UK. It has since, evolved into a week-long shopping sensation where retailers offer flash sales on a range of products. The most interesting development over the last five years is the investment of retailers in the latest technologies, most notably artificial intelligence (AI), with the aim to improve the customer experience and enhance business results. Long gone are the days of people waiting in line for hours on end to fight for a cheap TV. Through the implementation of AI, businesses and consumers can enjoy a significantly more pleasurable shopping experience.
Personalising the shopping experience
The recent shift around Black Friday is a result of consumers moving away from the high street and towards online shopping – retailers took note. The implementation of AI is a pivotal technological advancement for the in-store and online retail experience that has already made moves to transform the sector. Businesses are able to put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time.
Retailers are now using predictive analytics based on mass amounts of data to hyper target users who they believe will be willing to buy certain products. A SalesForce report found that 35% of online purchases during the festive period were based on retailers’ AI-powered recommendations tools. If a retailer can predict what a consumer wants at a specific time, the experience is a win-win for everyone involved.
Online over offline
There is no doubt how consumers have changed their shopping patterns. They’re now constantly connected, not just through their computer but now through a host of devices – tablets, mobiles, even watches. What was once seen as e-commerce has now moved into m-commerce. Last year, Deloitte found online purchases accounted for a higher spend than traditional physical retail outlets, so there is a real need for businesses to understand this changing online dynamic. With consumers expecting a better online service if they are to spend money during the Black Friday period, the AI retail investment trend will inevitably continue.
On the high street
What was once seen as an exclusively online tool has created huge impact in bricks and mortar shops. Retailers are constantly collecting data around store journeys, shop layouts, the overall shopping experience and stock levels. In the past, there has been negative publicity around the chaos that Black Friday created – with headlines about violent confrontations over the latest discount TVs and duels over dresses. However, with the implementation of AI, shops are better equipped to manage stock, sales and provide the best in-store experience. As businesses continue to see the value of smart stores, consumers will continue to see improvements in the high street and the way that technology is influencing these experiences.
Robotic customer service
As technology becomes more advanced, we can be sure to see increased in the use of AI. In Japan, Pepper, the companion robot, has been introduced in certain shops to answer customers’ questions. I believe this will soon become the norm in the UK and retailers will see the value in using these robots during their busiest times. For retailers, robots offer an added blanket of security around positive customer service and thus the overall customer experience.
With consumers constantly bombarded with offers and sales, retailers with the strongest technologies will be the most successful as they will have the ability to offer the best, most tailored offerings to their client base. As the implementation of AI accelerates across all sectors, it will be interesting to see what is in store for holidays to come.