How AI Is Transforming the Retail Experience

By: Becky Lawlor - Leave a comment


Even as other industries accelerate with an improving economy, the retail industry has lagged behind. According to CNBC, the biggest drop in jobs in March of this year came in the retail sector, which lost 30,000 positions. As retailers try to regain lost ground amid store closings and low sales, many are turning to digital tactics such as artificial intelligence to lure in customers both online and in stores.

Here’s a look at how retailers are using AI to transform the shopping experience.

Helping Customers Find What They Want

Many customers have turned to online retail giants because they’re looking to streamline their shopping experience. While online reviews can help customers better select the right product for their needs, an AI-powered experience like the one The North Face offers goes a step further.

Powered by IBM’s Watson, The North Face has created an online interface and a mobile app that allow customers to engage with AI in a question-and-answer format. Instead of scrolling through The North Face’s hundreds of jacket models, Watson quickly collects information on where you’ll be using the jacket, when you’ll be using it and the type of activities you’ll need it for. Acting as a personal online shopper, the system then narrows down your choices to a handful of jackets that best suit your needs, streamlining the decision-making process while also ensuring you find the right product.

Personalizing the Shopping Experience

Awash in shopper data, retailers can also use artificial intelligence to sift through that data to provide actionable insights that allow them to better personalize the shopping experience. This includes gaining deeper contextual information about the best time to interact with shoppers.

For example, AdWeek recently highlighted Italian lingerie brand Cosabella’s use of AI. The retailer has a system that matches shoppers in real time with website designs they’re most likely to respond to.

Keeping the Retail Brand Cutting-Edge

Another reason retailers are investing in cognitive technology is to keep their brands fresh and appealing to shoppers, especially as millennials and Generation Z shoppers become a bigger slice of the revenue pie.

Appealing to these younger shoppers means offering a connected experience offline and online. For example, Neiman Marcus uses an AI-powered app that allows customers to take pictures of anything they like on their mobile device. The app then displays similar items from the store’s inventory. According to VentureBeat, this technology has increased the retailer’s app usage and customer engagement.

In a highly competitive environment, retailers are looking for any edge to beat out their competition. Artificial intelligence offers a way to amp up the customer’s experience both in traditional physical stores and online, while also enabling retailers to learn from their data much more quickly.

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About The Author

Becky Lawlor

Freelance Writer

Becky Lawlor is a freelance technology writer. She develops and writes content on topics such as mobility, cloud services, unified communications, managed services and more.