The dynamic e-commerce sector has revolutionized the way consumers shop in our mobile world. In the past, many e-commerce companies aspired to bring the best of an offline shopping experience to the online space by giving customers a seamless way to discover products that they are actively looking for. The recommendation process is often practised by e-commerce retailers to help customers find the best options. Today, AI is used to analyse all the data collected about consumers and to provide more personalized suggestions. AI technology gives companies a competitive advantage and is available to developers or companies of all sizes and budgets.

Customers quickly say goodbye to impulse control as new software platforms that control e-commerce websites create innovative visual search functions. AI not only enables customers to find suitable products but also to discover complementary products.

After the retail industry was influenced by the e-commerce revolution, it was instrumental in introducing and innovating new technologies to the market. With the deployment of new technologies like IoT, Mobile and AI, most retail giants have recognized the potential to use these technologies to transform their retail operations and customer experience. AI has allowed brands to provide customers with curated content and products that best suit their needs online.

Much like how e-commerce was influenced by the offline retail store, the opposite is now true. Customers want the online experience in a brick and mortar store. Though this challenge is daunting, here are five ways that retail brands should implement AI.

1. In-store Voice Assistant

Using AI, intelligent analysis and natural language processing technology, retail stores can give their customers the opportunity to get immediate in-store assistance. By placing robots and touch panels enabled with voice technology, stores can help customers find the best items that fit their needs. This can be done by giving customers the option to select products based on their intended use. Voice assistants add a layer of care that makes a customer feel like they have a personal assistant with them.

2. Product Recommender

Retail is an industry that is drowning in ocean customer data and that desperately needs actionable ways to use that data. AI has created a world of physical retail opportunities and is revolutionizing the industry by making it affordable to deliver a holistic, personalized, and engaging brand experience in-store. Failure to establish direct, personal customer relationships is not an option in this new landscape. Overall, the greatest benefit that retailers can achieve through AI is the accurate, efficient analysis and proper use of all customer data available to them.

AI tools can make product recommendations based on items that the customer has bought in the past or on their purchase history, including price data. When you start adding physical data like vital statistics and measurements, the level that recommendations could be tailored to, is truly incredible. AI integration will be at the centre of any further development as retailers improve the experience with customer data. Future-oriented retailers will no doubt want to build new partnerships with the best AI technology to keep in touch with their growing global customer base.

3. Marketing and Promotions

The modern customer prefers to invest in experiences rather than just products. Retailers need to take advantage of this rising need. Brands that offer their customers fun, unique experiences that take the shopping experience to a new level are the most successful. Much like  the unboxing phenomenon , elevated in-store experiences offer companies the opportunity to utilise the white space around purchasing a product to further drive engagement with the brand and its range of products.

For example , to encourage customers to visit brick and mortar retail stores, retailers can motivate them using tools like image search or augmented reality (AR) applications. Using gamification that rewards customers with offers by locating and scanning relevant products in a store. With this approach, we not only enhance in-store customer experience but also contribute to increasing sales for targeted products using mobile applications.

4. 24/7 Support

In the experience model, leaders often use their businesses as a form of brand marketing in addition to their traditional function as a place to buy their products. Apple is the perfect example with a global presence of over 500 stores that support the brand with a strong focus on design and a skilled workforce to guide customers through their wide range of products.

For retailers who focus on value, AI is poised to deliver greater efficiency gains and facilitate a lower operating model. With customer service bots supported by AI, businesses can cut staff costs and provide 24/7 customer support. In-store, these bots can help customers get answers to their questions, and find out how a product can make their lives easier. When used correctly, AI can reduce human error at various levels of retail sales processes.

5. Product Pricing & Stock Management

AI quickly combines large amounts of data with fast, iterative processing and detailed algorithms that allow the program to automatically learn from patterns in the data. Regardless of how large or small the retail location is, many companies can benefit from integrating AI into their daily functions. From daily task management to gaining customer knowledge, AI is the basis for technology in retail.

AI for retail stores could help companies set prices for their products and visualize the likely results of multiple pricing strategies. To do this, systems collect information about other products, promotions, sales, and additional data. Stores can present the best deals, win new customers and thereby increase sales.

Machine learning is also the engine for smart recommendations , which are essential drivers for additional sales. In physical stores, it is even more important to have the right product, size and colour in the right quantities, in the right place.

In the end, it’s about unique experiences!

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are among the top technology trends in retail. Major brands such as Nike, are investing heavily in these new technologies to bring a powerful personalised experience to people who shop at their stores. Retail brands need to embrace advancements in technology like they always have.

Rather than checking every box on the list, brands should decide what are the best features they need in-store to assist their shoppers. Most of all, as a retailer you need to be innovative in the way you implement new technology as that will truly set you apart from your competitors.