2019: The future of AI-enabled retailing is here
Artificial intelligence is sweeping all aspects of processes in detecting, analyzing, and executing processes as well as capture additional information. All of these processes are fully possible to do using available NLP, Machine and Deep Learning using today’s technologies. This is the year where more and more retailers will take advantage of AI, creating real business results.
According to Global Market Insights, the retail market will invest 8 billion USD by 2024 into artificial intelligence. The opportunities are endless in terms of automating and providing the customer faster and better service.
Three months ago, as you walked by the potential site location, a set of cameras armed with Deep Learning based neural networks captured pictures of everyone walking by the store estimating age, sex, and ethnicity. Your face was part of the reason the particular retail store selected the specific location. The retailer tested each potential location and selected the location based on profiling people walking by the store.
As you walk in the store, your face is recorded and profiled based on age, sex and ethnicity and compared to previous images for likely matches using face recognition technology. Since this is your first time walking in, there is no match. At this point, the retailer can analyze who actually walked into the store and how many are first-timers vs. repeat customers as well as the profiles of the people who walk into the store, better equipping the retailer to determine which demographic buys something vs. browses.
Additional information about shoppers and potential shoppers gets captured using a video camera integrated with AI technology:
As you walk and stop on the aisles, the store cameras carefully monitor your moves and detect where you stop and look, capturing what products you show an interest in. This gets stored to your potential customer profile. You grab the last box of cereal, and the AI enabled camera detects a stockout, which triggers a task for one of the stock clerks to replenish the product. Angus.ai is a company focused on AI-enabled video interpretation for retail stores.
Using AI within the store to identify confused shoppers and stockouts:
You are unable to find the specific product you are looking for, and you whip up your AR-enabled Guide Bot, which now also identifies who you are, to take you to the specific location in the store where the product is found.
AR enabled AI chatbot shopping concierge:
While shopping, you may take a look at Facebook or Instagram, and by using geographic micro-targeting in or near the building, it is possible to serve an ad to in-store shoppers, making them aware of the Shopping Concierge Chatbot.
You connect to the chatbot, and the retailer gains more information about you and the ability to push information to you. You scan the product or use your mobile camera to using Image Detection technology to identify the product you are considering. You ask several questions regarding some products, which are streamed to an NLP engine to understand the questions and provides answers instantly. These questions are added to your profile for further mining and profiling.
If the store is fully monitored using one of the Machine Learning-based video monitoring shown above, the system will already be aware of the product you have in your cart or the one you are currently holding in your hand and can show you the FAQs typically for that product.
AR virtual fitting rooms are really old technology but enable the customer to “try on” clothes or shoes virtually by tapping on a different piece of clothing, allowing you to try on ten of pieces of clothes in minutes while also collecting shopper behavior and selections.
AR enabled virtual fitting room
Checkout and Payment
You swipe your credit card and are asked if you want a receipt emailed to you. Convenient in case you lose it, you say yes, and the retailer captures your email address. While you are standing at the cash register, the camera matched your profile using facial recognition, which is now linked to your purchase history. The retailer now has recorded how long you spend in the store and what products you browsed coupled with an estimated age, sex and ethnicity.
Future retails stores will be enabled by autonomous checkout procedures where everything you have done in the store is recorded and measured, and when you leave the store, you are automatically charged. Several stores are already working on cashier-less stores, including Amazon, Inokyo, and Aipoly.
Multiple AI companies are working on AI-enabled retail checkout procedures. Here is a solution by Everseen.com demonstrating detecting what shoppers pick and automated checkout. This type of technology can also be used for theft prevention:
After You Leave
Armed with a massive amount of data, successful retailers of tomorrow will gain deep insights into consumer profiles connected between the different channels to be able to create a personalized shopping experience not only through e-commerce but also through intelligent in-store chatbots and physically within the retail environment.
Traditionally, it has been the large e-commerce or online portals such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon who have been the massive collectors of customer information. Now, with AI-enabled applications, it is possible for brick-and-mortar stores to collect large amounts of information about their customers.
Retailers can now identify which profiles are likely to browse vs. buy while also identifying what products you browsed as well as which products you actually bought. AI will then tie this profile to your email ID, social media accounts, and more, enabling the retailer to carefully understand your interests and profile to maximize sales and profits.
The ability to collect all this information also comes with responsibilities, and with new data privacy laws such as GDPR, which traditionally targets Google/Facebook, they will be relevant for many other companies. Companies need to carefully assess all legalities and ethics with regards to the data being collected and use this in a responsible manner.
Symprio—based in the US, Singapore, and Malaysia—is a company focused on enabling artificial intelligence solutions to solve practical business challenges. Visit www.symprio.com for additional information on how we can help.