AI and retail are a match made in heaven. Think of all the possibilities, from customer service to better data, to personalized products.
It turns out the highest-rated New York-based personal shopper on Yelp charges almost $500 for three hours of work. That’s an astronomical amount of money for many customers to spend before they even buy your products.
What if you could cut out the middleman and provide your customers with a personalized, in-store experience that offered the same level of concierge service but without the exorbitant price tag? Better yet: What if customers could receive this same level of service within the comfort of their own home? Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes these scenarios possible. This is not blue-sky thinking. Many companies are already using AI and investing in use cases that will transform the customer experience, and some of these innovators will be center-stage at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit, scheduled for May 8 in New York City. Let’s delve a bit more into how AI can be the premier personal shopper for retail customers.
AI: The Retail Inventory Expert
With AI enabled via in-store tablets or consumers’ mobile devices, shoppers can find inventory-based information without relying on a human worker. AI systems connect to your product catalog and use information based on an individual customer’s shopping history, size, body shape and your designers’ recommendations to help shoppers make informed decisions.
Sure, you could have a dozen retail associates helping customers try on items, but if there’s a sudden rush of traffic, they will not be able to provide one-to-one service, or if there is no traffic whatsoever, you’re paying associates to stand around and do nothing. AI scales as demand spikes, so customers never have to wait; they simply open your mobile app or walk over to an in-store tablet or kiosk, and speak or type a description of their needs.
AI’s historical memory is yet another feature that can elevate in-store shopping experiences. When consumers interact with associates, both parties typically forget the interaction soon thereafter — unless of course the associate delivers poor service or the customer visits the store on a regular basis. AI-based personal shoppers retain all customer interactions and use them to make informed recommendations. If customers ask questions about a product, or ask the AI personal shopper how they would look in a particular outfit, the system can use this information to build and extend consumer relationships long after they leave the store. When customers return to the store, regardless of how much time has passed, the system remembers the shoppers’ inquiries. If customers purchase a product that is later upgraded to a next-generation model (e.g., sneakers or handbags), the personal shopper can notify those customers and provide additional information.
Future Use Cases
As augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) become ubiquitous, customers will be able to make use of a fully-personalized shopping experience. Instead of using their dimensions to ask the AI-based personal shopper to recommend products that should fit their body type, users will be able to upload photos of themselves to create a 360-degree image. The AI associate can scan the image and determine if the clothes fit according to the designer’s recommendation. Alternatively, if customers don’t have access to specific items, or they prefer to shop at home, a 3D overlay of the product can be added onto a customer’s live image to provide a similar shopping experience.
This use case is particularly helpful for large-scale purchases such as household furniture. Retailers already offer applications that allow customers to place furniture virtually within actual living spaces in order to better understand dimensions and overall aesthetic. Soon they’ll be able to add an AI-based personal shopper to this experience to provide a fully-trained expert providing every single customer with their own personal interior decorator.
These are just a few of the ways AI can and will provide the expertise of a personal shopper with in-store and digital retail experiences. Your company should begin researching AI-based solutions that can help improve your overall customer experience so that it can master these use cases before they become commonplace. Join us at this year’s DWS to hear some real-life examples of AI delivering value to consumers.