Machine learning, or artificial intelligence, is no longer a futuristic-sounding concept for most people. Smart home devices like smart thermostats and lights, navigation apps, or even music streaming services are all powered in some way by machine-learned algorithms, and millions of consumers are using these in every day life.
So it’s not surprising that AI has already started changing the way companies manage their day-to-day operations as well. When we look at the retail industry, it’s easy to see a few ways AI is making a big impact, revolutionizing the way brands and retailers go to market.
Amazon always comes to mind when we think about how point of sale has started to undergo a huge transformation. Amazon Go stores are popping up nationwide, and leverage cameras and algorithms, along with the Amazon app, to not only track customer preferences, but to allow them to leave a store without checking out at all.
Sam’s Club has also gotten in on the AI-powered checkout game with their test store, Sam’s Club Now. With the membership’s apps, customers will see suggested items to buy, automatic curated shopping lists, and can scan and purchase items from their mobile devices, skipping the checkout line altogether. It’s likely that more and more of the big-name brands will start to experiment with different ways to leverage machine learning to transform the traditional checkout system.
Retailers are missing out on nearly $1 trillion in sales because they’re not accurately keeping track of what shoppers need in stores, according to a 2018 study by IHL Group. To combat this, heavy hitters like Walmart and Lowe’s have both joined the robotics game when it comes to tracking items on the shelf.
In 2017, Lowe’s launched a one-year pilot program of it’s LoweBot, an autonomous robot that could help answer customer questions and help them find products. Since then, Lowe’s has expanded the machine’s capabilities to scan shelves to spot where items are out of stock. Similarly, Walmart has been experimenting with shelf-scanning robots and added 300 more to it’s fleet in 2019.
When it comes to mining better data, artificial intelligence is gaining momentum in the area of retail space planning and merchandising. By applying algorithms to historical data and trade promotion spend, Symphony RetailAI has been enabling retailers to view forecasts and tweak promotion mechanics in real time. Used in this way, AI can process billions of customer transactions to quickly uncover insights and recommend intelligent actions.
InContext recently announced our partnership with Symphony RetailAI, which further enhances the power of AI by providing virtual store and product simulations to test AI-backed learnings in a risk-free space.
Artificial intelligence is quickly catching on in the retail world, creating customized, streamlined, and data-driven solutions for retailers, brands, and their customers.