Retail is one of the largest industries in the world, and it’s only going to keep growing. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), retail consumers are experiencing a whole new way of shopping both online and in stores.
From customer service to supply chain, machine learning has improved how retail operates, whilst AI is allowing companies to better understand the data and behaviours of their customers.
Both of these technologies are starting to have a significant effect on the way e-commerce businesses attract and keep customers. However, what we want to know is; how are retail companies going to stay ahead of their competitors, and what will the future look like for retail? Below we have stated five ways AI and machine learning are disrupting the retail industry:
1. Chatbot Customer Service
E-commerce has enhanced so much over the years that they’ve now created a place for people to shop after normal business hours. This is why we’ve seen a rapid growth towards chatbot deployments, as retailers have jumped at the chance to implement the technology to bring customers to their digital store at any hour of the day. The growing move toward chatbot deployment represents one of the most accessible use cases for e-commerce companies hoping to take advantage of AI and machine learning.
This smart technology learns about the customers over time, allowing them to provide the most likely answer, and with a more personalised experience. With AI’s machine learning and advancement, retail can offer 24/7 support to visitors, quickly collect valuable data, track behaviour, and reach seamless brand continuity.
Retailers can further conversion rates by tailoring the online experience for the consumer by making it more personalised, branded, and intelligent within the new few years, and without having to do any extra work.
2. Smart Searching
If you can’t find an item in a physical retailer, you can always count on a sales associate to point you in the right direction. Search provides the same service when you shop online.
This is probably one of the areas with the highest impact from machine learning algorithms. The search engines use AI to understand long search terms, and Machine Learning techniques boost the ability of internal website searches to understand the customer’s intent.
Not only will it point you in the right direction but search powered by machine learning can predict what you want and tailor it’s recommendations to fit every individuals needs. This technology takes search from decent customer service to excellent customer service.
Previously, retailers had to recommend based on best-sellers in-store rather than their customers personal taste, and as stores expanded and moved online, it became increasingly difficult to tailor recommendations.
AI and machine learning have changed this by being able to provide customers with products that they are more likely willing to buy, improving the customer experience and helping to drive sales. Machine learning can alter the recommendations based on the stage or channel a customer is shopping in, enhancing e-commerce core operations to increase conversion rates with algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, recommendations, merchandising placements, A/B ads testings and much more.
It’s becoming easier for online retailers to personalise product recommendations in real-time for every customer, AI and machine learning streamlines the process and creates a positive customer experience.
4. Inventory Management
Managing inventories and supply chain can be really complicated, there can be issues with theft, mismanagement, or just general human error.
AI machine learning can predict these normal issues and therefore provide a more accurate estimate, and an analysis for what future demands are likely to come into the market.
Adding machine learning tools into the management of the supply chain will allow the technology to learn about the customers, visitors and their behaviours. This can significantly reduce shrinkage, save companies time and money, and help predict future inventory needs for their company.
5. Better Shipping
Shipping can be an obstacle for most retailers, especially when they are facing uncertainty in the supply chain. And these days, people want things there and then and don’t have the patience to be waiting weeks for their purchase.
Machine learning tools can now help retailers create better predictions in their supply chain, making their shipping estimates substantially more accurate and keeping the customer relationship a happy one. With companies such as Amazon and ASOS using these technologies and stepping up their game, it’s something retailers need to jump on.
The most recent evolution in the field of data science is AI and machine learning. There are a lot of exciting opportunities for these technologies in e-commerce. Many of which are either already in use or should be soon, so you can expect machine learning to become an increasingly important part of retail businesses.
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