How AI is Changing the Retail Landscape

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been implemented for a while now, but its advantages continue to be applied in new, innovative ways. In the retail industry, the application of AI is expected to exceed $8 billion by 2024 according to ReadItQuik. All stages across the retail value chain are becoming increasingly efficient because of AI. Similarly, retail storefront businesses are using AI to optimize decision-making and improve customer experiences.

AI brings efficiency and visibility to the retail value chain.

With high manufacturing speed and the ability to manage inventory, AI-driven robots are helping factories and warehouses become more streamlined than ever.

  • SoftWear Automation is a startup from Atlanta, Georgia that has developed machine vision-based sewing robots. According to CBInsights, Tianyuan Garments Company plans to use these robots to make 800,000 T-shirts per day for Adidas.

  • Kinema Systems, a startup from Silicon Valley, California, creates solutions for self-training industrial robots that utilize deep-learning 3D vision systems. When integrated into warehouses, these robots can move boxes in unstructured environments.

AI is also bringing transparency to the complex, large-scale shipping industry, which is expected to reach $1.3 trillion in value in the United States alone by 2023 (Source: InXpress Franchise). Paired with IoT, AI can track global shipments and more accurately provide shipping information. San Francisco-based startup ClearMetal does just that. By leveraging machine learning and collecting trade data, it aims to empower companies with invaluable information on shipping events, times, and demands.

How is AI improving in-store customer experiences?

Silicon Valley-based startup Focal Systems is providing brick-and-mortar stores with intelligent, AI-powered camera-tablets that have many useful functions. Devices attached to shopping carts can:

  • Automatically notify the store about out-of-stock items just by passing through aisles

  • Track in-store consumer footpaths and dwell time for future analysis

  • Guide customers to the products they’re looking for and notify them about promotions

  • Allow customers to take what they need and leave without having to physically check-out items, otherwise known as auto-checkout.

AI is also presenting itself in the form of robots in some large retail stores.

  • Lowe’s LoweBot rolled out in 2016 in the San Francisco Bay area. With an availability of multiple languages, it functions to assist customers with simple questions and monitor inventory.

  • Walmart is testing out robots from San Francisco-based Bossa Nova Robotics to monitor inventory. This includes identifying out-of-stock products, missing labels, and incorrect price tags.

How is AI affecting online retail?

Israel-based startup Twiggle is providing businesses with intelligent search engines that can mimic professional salespeople. These powerful search engines take advantage of AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to create personalized, deep-knowledge searches for customers, who can then more accurately find what they are looking for. According to Twiggle, their “Semantic API” leads to:

  • 9% increase in “add to cart” rate

  • 12% uplift in click-through rate

  • 80% decline in “no results” pages

Another notable startup is Canadian-based Daisy Intelligence. By using AI- technology, Daisy Intelligence allows business owners to comprehensively analyze sales data. These insights provide retailers with the power to optimally set prices and promotions, predict upcoming trends, and forecast future sales.

A better experience for everyone.

With so many tech companies providing AI-solutions for the retail industry, it is evident that businesses need to adapt in order to keep up with their competitors. As a result, retailers will reap higher profits while consumers will enjoy greater convenience in their everyday shopping ventures.

Michael Kwok