The retail sector has always been in a state of flux. But over the last decade or so, it has been rocked by the gradual decline of in-store shopping and the rise of online and omnichannel experiences. Some retailers have responded to this change by investing in digital expansion at a rapid rate, while others have been slow to respond, either choosing to neglect investment in their online shopping platforms or over-investing in the latest tech gadgets without taking a step back to understand how they can deliver real results. In both instances, these brands have been overtaken by those who are innovating in better, faster and smarter ways. Look to online-only brands like Spotify, Amazon and Deliveroo for example – ecommerce-only players who have transformed the state of the retail market by delivering outstanding online customers experiences that have raised the bar of customer expectation.
The Role of AI in this
Behind each of these businesses lies advanced technology and the ability use it well to perfect the online shopping experience. One of these technologies is artificial intelligence and machine learning, which has helped digital brands to understand shopper behaviour and intent quickly using algorithms that can analyze vast amounts of consumer data at the touch of a button. By applying such technology to the retail experience, brands have been able to tailor the customer journey to individual customer wishes. For example, AI systems can be utilized to analyze what customers are searching for most online by looking at most popular keyword search terms on-site and across social media channels. AI systems can also be used to generate personalized product recommendations for shoppers who are interested in a certain type of product, based on their unique shopper data, which AI-driven algorithms can process at a speed-lightning pace. In such cases, the technology is the catalyst for allowing retailers to generate a pleasing and delightful shopping experience that customers will love. In this way, AI is rapidly redefining how everyone should approach the perfection of their customer experiences.
“AI is rapidly redefining how everyone should approach the perfection of the customer experience.”
Rethinking AI as the Answer
However, it’s a bit of a misnomer to label artificial intelligence as the newfound answer to giving customers what they want. Despite the hype that currently surrounds AI, it isn’t as intelligent as we may think it is. If retailers simply let algorithms make all decisions for them, they may end up promoting products to customers that are incorrect, strange or completely irrelevant to a shoppers's ‘in-the-moment’ intent. AI for example can only analyse data and make decisions based on observable patterns. But humans are more complex animals and often, we don't act according to a predefined pattern or plan. How we shop in the past isn’t the way we will shop in the future, or even in the next hour or minute. AI systems therefore must be monitored and controlled by people in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the customer, who feels and acts on impulse as much as they act in a predefined pattern that a robot can analyze.
AI Intelligence: AI-powered systems are intelligent, but they need to be guided
Continue reading the full story via Retail Tech News: From Cruise Control to Human Control: AI Redefines Ecommerce Experiences