Here’s What’s Next for Retail

Let me offer a quick scenario.

You walk into a store at your local mall. They’re holding a 40%-off sale.

You have questions but there’s not a salesperson in sight. The clothing displays are a mess and you can’t tell what’s 40% off and what isn’t.

You look around for assistance, but after two laps and no help, you’re too frustrated and leave.

Sounds like a normal shopping experience right?

That scenario may be true today, but in all likelihood, it won’t be true for long.

Now imagine in the near future, you’re interacting with a personal shopping assistant, an AI powered automaton, rather than leaving a store in frustration.

The notion is hardly far-fetched.

The artificial intelligence revolution has already taken hold of industries like manufacturing, transportation and finance.

Now AI tech is being applied to brick-and-mortar retail operations. The impact it will have is mind blowing.

“We Are Braindead”

Last week the retail conference Shoptalk, a veritable “who’s who” list of retail execs and industry experts, was held in Copenhagen, Sweden.

The hands-down dominating consensus coming out of the conference was that artificial intelligence will play an integral role in traditional retail’s future success.

“The clear takeaway is adapt or die….”, remarked one Shoptalk attendee.

That point is not to be taken lightly.

A recent Gartner industry report projects that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be managed with AI software and 30% of all companies will employ AI in at least one sales process.

The writing’s on the wall and retailers refusing to adapt will suffer the consequences.

EBay’s chief product officer put it like this…

“It’s bigger than the web and the mobile revolution combined. By 2020 if we’re not engaged with this technology and making it a meaningful part of our businesses – we are braindead.”

Many traditional retailers are already investing heavily in AI. Companies like Levi, Burberry, Neiman Marcus, North Face, and Urban Outfitters (to name a few) all know how high the stakes are. To compete with a thriving ecommerce market, AI is a “must have” for traditional retailers.

Three Ways AI Will Change The Face of Retail

Big data needs are a huge driving force behind the recent AI push. Today’s brick-and-mortar retailers are inundated with information.

They have tons of actionable customer data at their fingertips, and no idea how to use it!

AI solves this problem by making sense of all that info, offering a cheaper, faster way to conduct complex analytics.

AI allows retailers to understand their customer data more intelligently. It’s used to predict consumer style preferences and changes to those preferences instantaneously, saving you time and money.

The predictive powers of AI are also a unique way traditional retailers can use cutting-edge tech to stay ahead of consumer preferences.

Some retailers are using AI to trawl thousands of e-commerce sites to pinpoint exactly which products are being viewed most, day in and day out.

This allows them to get in front of the consumer wants and needs, and ensures you have the latest and greatest product offerings possible.

Competitive pricing is yet another way brick-and-mortar stores and consumers are benefitting from AI implementation.

Using a rule-based machine learning engine retailers can optimize prices based on various external factors, like inventory, competitors’ out-of-stock situations, and other store’s discounts instantaneously, ensuring you always get the best deal.

For example, a store could use AI tech to implement automatic pricing rules such as always selling a specific item for 10% less than an online competitor like Overstock.

Because who doesn’t want to save a little time and money right?

And that’s just a few ways AI tech will change the face of traditional retail.

More and more forward-thinking ideas are continuously opening new doors for the future.

If you’re looking for a monumental industry disruptor there is no better example than AI.

As the trend continues to gain momentum, there is no doubt that AI tech will fundamentally change retail as we know it and make the industry infinitely stronger.

For Tomorrow’s Trends Today,

Ray Blanco
for The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning