Roundtable Series: The Benefits of AI for Retail Operations

July 22, 2019

AI is becoming a key driver for Retail Operations. According to Gartner’s surveyAI for Retail Operations would significantly transform product development and selection, planning, buying, and demand forecasting. Today, retailers are focusing on automation and customer-centricity using AI. What’s working with retailers using AI? The retailers have a huge advantage of having access to a vast amount of customer data and in-depth analytics driving shopper’s behavior across various retail channels, including physical stores and connected devices.

As part of our Roundtable Series, we invited leaders in the Retail Operations who have successfully invested their resources in AI and Automation for product development, customer experience, and data privacy of customer information.

Speakers include:

Product Recommendations and Content Personalization Is Where We See AI Really Shining

Neil Michel, Associate Director at Accenture Interactive, said – “At Accenture Interactive we see AI poised to take the retail sector by storm. Years of investment and experimentation have produced some very relevant AI solutions that touch the entire retail value chain – from the supply chain to merchandising to marketing and customer engagement.”

Neil added, “One thing we’ve learned about AI is that the robots are certainly not taking over. The successes we see with Artificial Intelligence combine Machine Learning with human ingenuity and emotional intelligence, especially in marketing and customer engagement applications of AI like robotic Sales reps or call center interactions. We’re working hard to train our robots to sense human emotion but it’s a long road, and today’s human-to-robot interactions still feel very task-oriented.”

Product Recommendations and Content Personalization is where we see AI really shining. These applications require less human-to-robot interaction and put the core value of AI (is computational power) behind a user interface like a website, email, chat, or digital advertisement. In these applications, we see AI finally achieving the kind of relevancy consumers appreciate.”

AI for Retail will Impact Inventory Turnover, Optimizing Stock and Even Predicting Future Revenues

Mitch Doust, Executive VP and Head of the Americas, Cover Genius

Mitch Doust, Executive VP and Head of the Americas at Cover Genius, said, “Whilst there are huge opportunities for retailers to apply AI and Data Science to their data sets to improve their core business, this is only the beginning. As with many other industries, retailers now have an opportunity to explore how the data they collect can be utilized by other tech companies to create broader offerings and generate revenue streams that can supplement their core retail operation. A prime example of this is insurance. Pricing and offering insurance has always been a data-heavy exercise.”

Mitch added, “With the emergence of AI tools and direct API integrations, some advanced InsurTech players can now consume data from retail partners in real-time to provide tailored insurance policies directly into the purchase path and shopping cart with no additional input from the customer. The ability of these businesses to use data to optimize conversion and UX means that they can provide a powerful new source of revenue for data-driven retailers, which, in turn, can help make them more competitive in a market where Amazon prices so aggressively across its core retail business.”

Beatrice Olivas, Chief Revenue Officer at Motive Interactive, said, “AI will have a profound impact on the retail industry. Given the link between Sales and customer data, retail is set up to naturally benefit from the promise of AI coupled with Machine Learning. With AI, retailers have the potential to predict a customer’s needs and serve them up a product coupon to meet those needs, which, in turn, will trigger the customer to complete an additional purchase they might not have set out to make initially. This will ultimately generate incremental revenue for the retailer. Inventory turnover, optimizing stock and even predicting future revenues are just a few of the many possible outcomes we can expect to see from properly leveraging AI within retail.”

Data Privacy and the Two Sides of  Location Data

Many independent investigation agencies blame mobile app publishers and Cloud service providers of covertly selling app user data to retailers. Use of AI and Automation can plug these gaps in-app data collection guidelines and data privacy management for retail operations.

Sergii Denysenko, Chief Executive Officer at MGID Global, commented, “The recent data collection updates could hurt the growth of digital out of home because the restriction on third-parties using geolocation to track users in offline environments, via Bluetooth and WiFi, will put a bigger emphasis on first-party data. But this shouldn’t have too much impact on the market. Apple being able to automatically generate random email addresses for users signing up to accounts via apps may initially worry marketers. But given the popularity of services such as, giving personal emails for registration purposes have lost their value.

Sergii added, “With registration and authorization for applications and services via social networks increasingly popular, this feels more like a PR stunt from Apple. The iPhone’s market share is decreasing and it’s hard to say if Apple can rival the Triopoly, yet perhaps the hype surrounding this privacy update will help boost device Sales, but I doubt it.”

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