How AI is creating a retail revolution
With technology powering advanced shopping experiences such as personalized ads and in-store chatbots, augmented reality displays and real-time price adjustments, the way we shop is changing. The implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a fundamental role in driving the retail revolution.
According to McKinsey, customers are willing to spend more in exchange for personalized experiences. Furthermore, when shelf-level advertising is done in an informative and entertaining manner, customers are also more receptive to it. To meet these high expectations, brick-and-mortar retailers must better understand their customers. This is where AI comes in, allowing retailers to capture the full value and provide multiple solutions.
With AI technology in the store, retailers can unlock a world of new customer experiences, for example autonomous shopping. By analyzing store data, stores have the necessary information to provide dynamic pricing and real-time promotions. Additionally, AI helps answer big questions, including what customers look at, what they buy, and what they will buy next. These insights benefit both parties, as it is critical for consumers to have a personalized purchasing experience.
AI also enables retailers to understand their customers by breaking down the barriers between different channels and taking an omnichannel approach, enabling them to leverage technologies such as conversational AI for both in-store and online experiences.
Not only on the work floor, AI also plays a key role backstage to improve the supply chain, from forecasting to routing optimization. By having a 'smart warehouse', retailers can track inventory, link stock levels to real-time purchasing trends and increase efficiency in the business.
Empowering retailers with AI
The technology that will light the spark for this change is now available. It already exists in the cameras already found in stores, combined with the power of AI and edge computing, bringing data storage closer to the source, enabling faster processing and delivering faster results. Retailers are already pioneering this technology, with powerful edge AI servers in stores helping to realize the future of self-checkout. The servers are connected to high-resolution cameras in the store. An AI application monitors shoppers as they check out and runs on edge servers that operate in real time.
When the edge servers detect an error, which could be anything from failure to scan to 'product switching' where customers swap stickers to scan expensive items for cheaper items, the system responds immediately. If a customer triggers an error, they will receive a real-time 'nudge' in the form of a five-second video displayed on the payment terminal. If they do not respond, a store clerk will be notified.
This is made possible by servers that can process input from twenty cameras simultaneously in real time. The cameras help retailers deal with theft, but also keep track of stock – and the technology has huge potential at the front and back of retail businesses. By connecting edge AI to in-store cameras, retailers may soon be able to check whether deliveries match exactly what was ordered. When customers 'click and buy', AI cameras can ensure they leave with the right goods. Such systems make it easier to track inventory and understand demand.
Leveraging AI and edge computing offers possibilities that go far beyond simply addressing problems such as theft. It can deliver customer insights that will transform the entire business, giving retailers the knowledge they need to improve store planning and place merchandise to increase sales.
Almost every store already has cameras, but the images they capture are rarely used: they are used as evidence when an incident occurs, but for little else. An edge system, combined with the power of AI, can quickly transform these images into tangible business value. By simply connecting a video feed to an edge server GPU, the system can provide the information needed for valuable shopping behavior analytics, allowing retailers to instantly deliver personalized ads, real-time promotions and dynamic pricing. All this can increase purchases and increase sales.
AI can also be very powerful in helping retailers 'connect the dots' and build an omnichannel approach. This is done by connecting e-commerce data with retail data, building a 'Customer 360' view to deliver better experiences. When it comes to customer service, AI chatbots will become increasingly important, both in-store and beyond, helping to break down the barriers between offline retail and e-commerce. These interactions will continue to paint a complete customer picture.
Analysis of employee behavior can also help business leaders increase productivity and optimize workforce scheduling, while the cameras can also help protect employees from threats and ensure stores are not overcrowded. Edge computing works in synergy with AI here, offering retailers a way to process this information at the point of interaction and quickly deliver information where it is needed.
Analyzing the supply chain
This powerful combination of AI and edge computing also has applications far beyond the workplace. Analytics from warehouses and warehouses allow retailers to order products more efficiently, replenish shelves and plan logistics more effectively.
The more this data is shared between different parts of the business, the more valuable it becomes. When real-time inventory levels are linked to shop floor data on purchasing trends, these insights can help the entire business become more efficient and streamlined. For example, retailers can use data to understand the average number of customers entering stores at different times throughout the year and adjust their stores accordingly to meet this demand. This is a key differentiator for successful retailers in the run-up to busy periods such as Christmas.
In the field of warehousing and supply chain, AI can help with everything from optimizing routing and cold chain to inventory and warehouse management. AI analytics can ensure products arrive faster and fresher, giving business leaders the ability to anticipate problems while reducing waste.
The retail AI revolution
The winners and losers in retail will depend on who has benefited from real-time data and analytics. Forward-thinking companies will be able to deliver the personalized experiences they want by using AI and edge technology to leverage data. Data not only improves day-to-day operations and efficiency, but also helps unlock insights that lead to entirely new revenue streams.
As AI reaches its peak, now is the time for retailers to embrace this technology.
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