Skeptics foresee the demise of the brick-and-mortar shop due to the convenience of online shopping, but this impression is misleading. Retailers can give their businesses a new impetus by optimizing the buying experience with some help from new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), as the following points prove:
- Personalization must be top priority: if a customer takes a specific product, he or she can receive offers for other items that complement the purchased item – e.g. if you buy a winter coat, you will receive suggestions for matching scarves or gloves. Likewise, the AI can point to products that are currently on offer or would fit the previous item. That way, the customer is pleased about suitable offers and the retailer profits from higher sales proceeds.
- Optimization of the Customer Journey: with Artificial Intelligence (AI), retailers can analyze the aggregated data from online and offline purchases to help customers get faster to their products. If a customer has viewed a particular product in the online store but has not bought it, he can be directed to the spot where he finds it when he enters the store again. The payment process also offers great optimization potential. Just think about Amazon Go convenience stores: sensors recognize which goods the customer is packing, so that buyers can leave the store immediately while the amount is deducted from their online account without having to spend a long time cueing at the cash register.
- Having everything ready: An empty shelf does not bring any money, because customers often lack the time or motivation to search for personnel when looking for a specific product. At the same time, employees can’t constantly check for availability at peak times. AI can independently keep an eye on the shelves, alert employees when supplies run out, and check inventory for permanent availability. In addition, ‘Predictive Analytics’ also help retailers forecast bottlenecks and identify suppliers that can deliver the fastest. In this way, customers who might get lost to the competition through missing goods, are retained.
- Supporting employees through technology: A key advantage of retail stores is the personal advice provided by the staff, which many customers expect and do not want to go without. It’s a fact that if the customer is uncertain and not a consultant nearby, this leads to a quick abort. AI can intervene here preventively: using the already installed surveillance cameras and learning algorithms, the system detects whether a customer is able to cope on his own, for example, when he is moving purposefully or is insecure and stays at a certain point for a long time. If this is the case, staff can be alerted by push message and sent to the site to proactively help. This gives the customer the necessary advice, which increases the probability of purchase. In addition, the system learns from previous encounters and can optimize its approach successively. If an employee in a particular sales department is particularly successful, the AI can specifically alert him and thus increase the sales.
- Digital Transformation in the cabin: Changing cubicles will no longer need mirrors in the future. Artificial intelligence, in conjunction with interactive displays, adds value to customers by recognizing the tried-and-tested garment and projecting it onto their own body. The time-consuming trying on of sometimes several articles is shortened by displaying the clothes on the customer’s body. If not satisfied, customers can then quickly get suggestions for other colors, models or sizes as well as additional accessories that complement the outfit. The system can also provide advanced service and e.g. offer to have the purchase directly home.
Therefore, retailers don’t need to be afraid of the future. Buyers are not calibrated per se for online or offline and prefer the advantages of both models depending on the situation. Progress also provides the opportunity to bring the conveniences together and takes the shopping experience to a new level with AI.
By Daniela La Marca