As retailers predict how consumers will shop in the future, artificial intelligence could have an impact in store, online and beyond.

Promising significant benefits for both retailers and consumers, artificial intelligence (AI) is already all around us and used every day within shopping and payments. 

This year looks set to be AI’s biggest yet, especially within retail customer services. AI can process ‘big data’ far more efficiently than humans and can recognise speech, images, text, patterns of online behaviour, for example to detect fraud as well as appropriate advertisements for upselling.

Smart machines and technology can turn data into customer insights and enhance service provisions, bringing the digital experience closer to the in-store interaction for consumers.

Intelligent assistance

Within retail, intelligent assistance is a rapidly developing area of AI that has the potential to change the consumer experience as it uses big data combined with natural language interfaces and machine learning to provide human-like interactions.

The assistants are quicker than their human counterparts and can analyse vast amounts of data in seconds. In addition, assistants can perform human-like interactions and have a designed personality reflecting the brand that can provide an entertaining and engaging point of contact for shoppers.

”Retailers can use AI to redefine the way customers are experiencing their brand”

Gideon Hyde, Market Gravity

Personalisation is a major talking point for retailers and many are experimenting with innovative ways to match products and services to the consumer.

For the shopper, the technology can simplify the shopping process and offer suggestions and recommendations for purchases by matching algorithms.

We’ve seen some great examples of brands and retailers testing the technology to help customers find the right item for their needs, such as The North Face and their Expert Personal Shopper software.

Retailers can also use AI to redefine the way customers are experiencing their brand.

The retailer of the future will merge in-store and online efforts to provide more information about shoppers to offer better customer service and create the opportunity to sell more goods.

Before too long a bricks-and-mortar retailer will know when an online customer walks through the door of their high street store and will have information about items they have viewed on the website, while online retailers will know when a shopper has visited the high street store and can match their product suggestions accordingly.

Where to next?

Retailers need to pay attention to technological developments such as AI and plan ahead for what is coming and how they will address the changes.

The way retail businesses discover and implement innovation is shifting, with the launch of venture teams and accelerator panels or internal ‘incubators’ to bring a start-up mentality to corporate organisations.

The growth of automated services, AI and robotics has heightened the need for retailers to work closely with developers to ensure new concepts are identified, developed and commercialised professionally and effectively.

  • Gideon Hyde is co-founder and chief executive of Market Gravity