There are those who believe it’s inevitable that artificial intelligence (AI) will take over many jobs currently held by human employees. Industry analysts foresee 2018 as a year in which the adoption of cognitive computing, or AI, sees an accelerated uptick in intelligent automation. The exponential increase in its number-crunching ability together with a radical advancement in analytics positions AI as the long-held retail goal of meeting the customer on their terms, within reach.
Here are the top 5 ways AI can produce a greater understanding of your retail customer, and how you can deliver on those expectations.
- Use AI to personalise customer interactions
Utilise AI to analyse unstructured or “dark data”, which is the information your retail business collects, processes, and stores during the course of regular activity, of which is digital information that is not currently being used.
For example, AI can analyse information from social channels and websites to better understand your customers behaviour. You can therefore use this as a means of personalising interactions with your customers and create a more engaging and relevant retail experience. Machine learning - where insights are gained from each interaction and applied dynamically, is critical to unlocking your ability to offer personalisation at scale.
- Attain a better ROI with AI
AI provides you with a better understanding of how your customers are thinking and it gives you the ability to fine-tune your customer segmentation. Analyse customer preferences, together with broad-strokes personality characteristics and their buying patterns, to reveal which of your marketing campaigns and products are more likely to succeed or fail.
You can therefore focus resources on the activity that is best suited to give you the best ROI. “Thinking before acting” using AI, aims to tailor a solution or offering that’s best engineered for uptake and ticks all the retail ROI boxes, making your operations more effective.
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- Utilise AI for optimal engagement with your customers
In retail, you always need to source opportunities that differentiate you from the competition. Speaking to customer wherever they are in their journey has emerged as a pivotal retail differentiator. A diverse range of shopping and engagement channels are available to today’s customer and you need to engage with customers wherever they are in their journey and on their preferred channel.
With AI’s deeper analytics, your operation will have a better understanding of the how-and-when to engage customers, identifying which communications channels are best for deeper brand engagement generally, as well as the medium best suited towards a specific customer.
- Utilise AI to strategise your merchandising operations
Do you know which shelf customers usually reach for, when it comes to particular products? AI offers you the ability to gather and analyse in-store customer behaviour, utilising computer vision technology. For example, using computer vision technology, you can identify whether customers reach for products on the top, bottom or middle shelf. The automated data collected can be processed and analysed to determine patterns. You can in turn practically apply this information when strategising your merchandising efforts and optimise shelf packing and product displays.
- Manage your inventory effectively with AI
Inventory control is undoubtedly of paramount importance to meeting the customer’s requirement. The key to effectual inventory control is a deeper understanding of your customers demand for your products.
Computerising your supply chain delivers real-time insights into what’s on hand at what cost, where it’s situated and how quickly it can be used to fill an order or get to the rack. AI not only provides deeper insight into your costs, selling prices, profits and margins, it can also generate “best-fit” pricing solutions for your current sales and inventory environment; nimble, data-driven decisions that can mean the difference between profit and loss.
In conclusion, while some tout AI as eliminating retail jobs through automation, using it rather as an asset to solving retail business problems, the tech delivers an accurate picture of your customers, which translates to more profitable purposing of retail workers’ skills. This exponentially increases your ability to deliver the personalised touch customers seek, setting you apart from the competition.
UCS Technology Services offers a range of retail solutions geared towards integrations with market-leading systems and holds partnerships with key local and global service providers to offer SA retailers access to the top-tier technologies best suited to their business. Contact UCS TS today and optimise your retail operations.