Artificial intelligence | 12 Jun 2020 | 12 min
So yes, we all agree that the pandemic threw spanner in the works. And this year has seen the largest number of retail store closures. Being a brick-and-mortar company just does not seem to cut it anymore, you also need to have technology in the mix. As technologies change by the passing hour, they not only transform a customer’s habit, but also strong-arm the retailer to think of more innovative ways to gather insights about the customer.
Deep retail is using advanced technology to know your customers deeper and to leverage that information to enhance their experience. Using Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and facial recognition technology can personalize retail business to a never before extent and usher in a new dawn for the retail industry.
The retail industry has reached an inflection point, from where the line can inch towards ‘Get Smart’ or towards ‘Perish’. Knowing your customer better than they know themselves is now a necessity. So, what are the ways in which a retailer can leverage data from smartphones, online purchases or product views?
Consumers who viewed products online but went to the store to buy, have now shifted gears and have begun interacting with various e-commerce sites to complete their shopping.
So retailers shifted from Brick-and-Mortar to Brick-and-Click (integrated their store with an e-commerce site). But now more needs to be done, because as a survey suggests, in 2020 millennials make at least 50% of their purchase online. And 44% of the shopping will come from smart phones and tablets by 2024.
How then, can retail AI start-ups enhance and personalize the customer’s buying experience without the need of a physical store, or even an e-commerce site?
Use Augmented Reality (AR) and geolocation technology via a mobile app. AR fuses the physical and the virtual world in a way that both seem to coexist. Using Augmented Reality, you can create apps that help your customers discover in-store deals when they point at an item. Your customers can even see how a piece of furniture looks like in a virtual living room or play with wall colors by pointing their phone to the wall and picking the one that best suits their home.
Use technologies that involve deep learning (DL) to elevate your customer’s experience. Walmart has patented the technology to detect the emotions of their customers as they move around the store. Similarly, you can use visual search, face recognition, eye tracking, and even DNA tracking through Deep retail to understand your customers better.
Make the experience as paperless as you can, have a mobile checkout options so in store lines are reduced.
Use immersive technology to help your customers try your products online before actually buying them. Like Alibaba’s AI powered smart mirror is one such example, a voice activated mirror that lets you test make styles or dresses and then purchase them using QR codes on your mobile phone.
To digitalize a customer’s experience is to make yourself omnipresent. To understand your customer better, you can create an experience that is available in store, online, on the mobile, and even through means of cognitive engagement like natural language processing (NLP) chatbot or other voice agents like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant and be available for them each day of their lives.
Come up with non-intrusive in-store tactics to understand them better. Like installing an in-store GPS system, use in-store analytics to identify the areas where the customer spends the maximum time in the store, map how the customer goes through your store, use beacon technology to improve their interaction with your store.
Allow your customers to transact and engage with you across different channels interchangeably. Offer click-and-collect facilities where they buy an item online and come to the store to collect it, at the same time allow them to return it online.
That is how they can really experience omni-channel retail. And you are able to leverage data across multiple platforms and satisfy your customer needs better.
Enrich your customer’s experience end-to-end. Make the most of machine learning and AI techniques to obtain cognitive insights about your customers and in turn create a highly tailored shopping experience.
Using analytics you can curate an offer for your customer, arrive at a price on the basis of the time of year, location, weather, and purchasing patterns etc.
You can even analyze your customer’s online activities, predict their wants better, make recommendations and influence their buying behavior. You could take inspiration from the Knorr – Eat your feed campaign. They used Instagram and offered personalized recipes based on a consumer’s Instagram feed.
We believe in ‘always give more than your customer asks you for’, so here is another way in which you can leverage Deep retail.
Machine learning, Blockchain, IoT, DL, AR, and VR, are some of the measures that can help you attain success in the retail industry. But retailers also need to strengthen their logistics and add AI in their retail business.
As a retailer, it is important that you focus on a supply chain that is designed to produce whatever the consumer demands and adopt a ‘fast retail’ attitude.
Think of means to use Integrated Supply Chain instead of the regular one. An integrated one as the word suggests is much more collaborative, has the scope for sharing information, joint development, and even the use of common systems.
AI can help predict the volume customers will want to purchase at a specific period of time. Through demand prediction, you can then arrange your logistics appropriately and optimize your supply chain.
Work on your rapid delivery freights and extend your services to the customer’s door. Aim for a friction less experience. Make shipment more efficient, improve your order fulfillment and delivery process, optimize your supply chain, and make retail more responsive to their customers.
In conclusion, for retail companies, the new normal needs to lead to the path of automation, a path that is strewn with increased customer insights through digital solutions and virtual experiences.
You need to forge long term relationships with your customers through Relationship Retailing where you can have loyalty programs and personalize their experiences and make way for new and responsive retailing.
So have you leveraged digital technology yet? How have you tried to make your customer experience responsive? Write to us with your answers or if you wish to know more about how we can help with you on your road to engaging customers better with AI.
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