Artificial Intelligence in Retail: A Smashing Tool of Omnichannel

Retailers now struggle to squeeze out the maximum from the omnichannel approach, focusing on personalization and seamless customer experience. The demand is clear enough: fully integrated omnichannel presence, using both offline and online means.

However, modern customers (Millennials and Generation Z) are not so easy to surprise. So, it is not enough for retailers to keep up with settled trends — they have to be few steps ahead to hold all the aces. Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes a life jacket in this case.

How can retail benefit from Artificial Intelligence solutions?

Much as television in its time or Internet accordingly, Artificial Intelligence is here yet to make a revolution in common things. It was designed to amplify human capabilities, reduce efforts on solving routine issues and stimulate best ideas.

Retail is one of the industries that can receive excessively wide range of new opportunities if implements Artificial Intelligence solutions as one of the approaches in omnichannel integration strategies. With the methods of AI, businesses can deliver hyper-personalized customer-retailer interactions, offer the true value of a positive shopping experience as well as attract a larger audience.

Usually, there are offline conveniences that work perfectly for traditional structures, but are not provided in digital variants: many channels, but no customer-centric approach. Artificial Intelligence software, on the contrary, can both substitute human resources with humanized technologies in a digital world and enhance existing features, adding more personalization.

AI-powered solutions for retail

Global brands do see a future in Artificial Intelligence implementation and inspire with their cases. Following the application for ordering drinks online, Starbucks now launches the MyStarbucks Barista voice-activated chatbot for shorter lines and more satisfied in-a-hurry customers. Amazon beats the ratings with smart house devices to increase convenience, offering Amazon Echo powered by Alexa voice-assistant. x.ai’s cares about busy users introducing Amy — a virtual secretary for scheduling meetings.

However, while conducting our market research, we noticed there are no practical AI solutions for several areas. At ELEKS, we focus on removing such gaps in retail product development through our Retail Centre of Excellence. One of the significant steps is made now towards virtual advisors or assistants, as this software is aimed at a personalized approach to customers and engages audience to interact.

Following our latest experiment with a voice controlled shopping assistant for smart fridges, we have developed a demo of a Gift Recommender tool, an intelligent virtual guide on choosing a perfect gift for children.

The idea is driven by a rather common consumer need — almost every person had or will have to search for gifts for children from toddlers to teenagers. Yes, it may sound like it is a trivial thing to pick a gift for a kid, but it really can turn into a disaster sometimes.

Why? Well, parents often have no idea which Barbie to choose, and some of the adults might not differentiate Spiderman from a Transformer. Additionally, people without children may have no idea of which toys are trendy and are at the top of wish-lists. Nevertheless, when they shop in brick and mortar stores, polite consultants are there to help. But what if customers don’t even have time to get to the store? What if customers have no kid gift ideas at all? A lack of time can seriously slow down the process of choosing a gift.

What we offer is to consider Artificial Intelligence software to serve as a guide for your consumers, helping them choose a gift. Smart assistant will let you simplify the shopping process, enhance the customer’s experience, and, therefore, move your whole business to a completely new stage. Since customer satisfaction and loyalty are among top priorities for retail businesses, the more your customers enjoy their shopping experience, the more chances to have your sales up.

So, how does the tool work for customers?

When browsing a website in search of a suitable present, users may get lost somewhere between the pages of offered goods. Having no idea what to choose, they give up and you lose potential buyers. Gift Recommender is to kill such cases, acting like a customer’s personal web assistant, AI-powered analogue of a human shop-consultant.

The user is offered to go through a simple questionnaire directly on the website, which looks like a basic interaction between a shopper and an advisor in a store. The Gift Recommender tool then guides the user to the list of best-matching gifts for children, where the only thing left to do is to complete an order.

Questions are built using the basic gift parameters, which include filters for gift types and gift prices. Users might even give absolutely non-direct answers, and this should never be a problem, as the recommender is able to transform their vague parameters into clear insights.

The type of gift is defined by the child’s gender, age and favorite activities. A user has to point at child’s hobbies or interests (such as outdoor activities, skating, reading, drawing etc.) and may also give additional info about the purpose of the gift (entertaining or educational). Following questions will mostly try to specify a budget scale. In most cases, it depends on the user’s relationship to a child and occasion contexts. People tend to choose expensive gifts for children on some occasions: prices go higher when we talk about child’s birthday or Christmas, for instance. Parents and grandparents are likely to spend more on gifts for children, rather than aunts and uncles or some distant relatives.

Gift Recommender then offers a short list of gifts with actual prices and descriptions, tailored to a specific child upon customer’s interaction with the system. Generally, it’s a hundred times quicker to fill in several words about a child than nervously swipe pages of inappropriate variants.

As a result, your customers receive a smart shopping experience, saved time and a great gift for a child, and you get loyal audience and sales rise.

Innovative ideas coming live

Gift Recommender is an experimental tool of ELEKS: just a vivid example of how Artificial Intelligence software can transform businesses, boost sales and engage customers. We strongly believe that if retailers start implementing AI on a usual basis, it will turn the whole industry upside down, as people wait for new solutions for everyday routine deals.

We are open for creative and challenging cases, as our main aim is to deliver the best experience for retail.