When E-commerce took off the way it did, every retail pundit predicted the doom of in-store shopping as we knew it. The novelty and glamour associated with in-store shopping were replaced by convenience and never-ending aisles that an e-tailer brought. These ‘new guys’ were born and brought up in the tech industry and knew how to use data to make products more accessible to customers. But, things always don’t go as planned, do they? The hostile takeover of the retail kingdom is getting harder and as it stands today, the e-commerce players market share is still in single digits. The fightback has a lot to do with, surprise surprise, technology helping the physical stores. The laggards are learning and learning fast. If you look at the employee break up of the ‘new age store owner’, you will start seeing more analysts, data scientists, and digital innovation roles than the erstwhile, store help/ associates. This truly is the make or break period for the physical store owners and they are going all out in adopting modern technologies to counter the ‘born with data’ e-com frenemies.
So, who’s helping them?
Technology companies that offer both, technology services and products. They have created entire ‘retail-specific platforms’ to make the transition easy. For the novice store owner, something like a data visualization tool that offers colorful graphs might look really appealing and they go all out in acquiring an enterprise BI solution. But the more experienced and thoughtful ones are turning to much more advanced tech like AI, machine learning, and prescriptive analytics to truly operate at scale.
Today, AI is no longer a concept that has limited use-cases. The leading product companies are showing the way by applying AI in real life and retailers are gobbling it all up. Here are 6 ways retailers are using AI in their day to day operations:
- Stores are using AI to automate real-time store engagements through apps
- AI is now helping retailers by prescribing customer-centric assortments that are more likely to drive higher store sales in a specific location.
- Merchandisers and Category Managers are using AI to decide on price-offs and promotions for every SKU
- AI is also being used to recommend personalized, next best offers for individual customers
- Channel optimization is the latest of the lot. AI is being used to identify the right channel to target a specific customer
- Store managers are using AI to predict out of shelf and out of stock events to take corrective replenishment actions