Artificial intelligence (AI), especially on the web, lends itself to retailing in very tangible and beneficial ways and to some sectors more than others. One very obvious and beneficial example of this is the growing use of chatbots in retail.
Just to recap, chatbots are AI applications that replicate human conversation (to some degree) and can provide information and answer questions on products and services.
This role does not necessarily have to be played in an exclusively online environment; for example recent research suggests that;
97% of consumers who are appliance shopping are using their mobile phones while in stores to check and compare specifications, features and prices
Chatbots will have a significant part to play in this process as they are an efficient means of getting information and can be asked very specific questions and retrieve the answers with a minimum of effort, interactions and description from users.
But chatbots are not the only examples of AI that could be useful to retailers. Consumers these days are looking for very personalised products and experiences but, conversely, are less inclined or too busy to invest significant amounts of time in constructing the necessary environment or context for this to happen. This is where applications that gather historical data about customer preferences and purchases and can build up a picture of user tastes, likes and dislikes, style selections, colour preferences and so on can really give a brand or business a serious competitive edge.
Imagine a situation where a potential customer is looking for a new outfit or struggling to think of something for a dinner party. Two apps already exist that address these exact circumstances. The fashion application takes and absorbs information about your style, size, colour preferences; you then tell the app what are you are currently looking for and it will come up with options based on your personal data. The food shopping app is slightly different in that it doesn’t so much act upon your preferences as come up with ideas and recommendation loosely based on the data it has. These might be slightly leftfield in comparison to normal expectation but are still in line with the basic elements of the data it is working on.
AI is still pretty much in its infancy as far as retailing is concerned and there is still resistance (and some inability) in the traditional retail sector to embrace the technology.
However, more organisations are starting to see the potential and advantages of using AI though there are many possible downsides including poor execution, inability of bots to understand or provide adequate answers to questions, inadequate escape or reset protocols and, ultimately, frustration and disillusionment for users which can have long lasting consequences for a brand or company.
If you are in the retail sector and are interested in what AI might be able to do for your business and brands, why not ring us on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org