AI: The ultimate personal shopper?

With AI and machine learning becoming ubiquitous across aspects of online retail, sales are increasing and customers can have a better shopping experience.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

As the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday draws to a close, many of us wish we had experienced a better shopping experience in-store -- or wished we had turned to our mobile devices and searched for our bargains online. For many retailers, the experience for shoppers is broken and needs to change.

AI is being increasingly implemented across the fashion and retail industries as bosses introduce new technologies designed to improve the customer and shopping experience.

According to retail management consulting firm BRP, 45 percent of retailers intend to implement AI within three years to enhance the customer experience.

Customers want a unique experience, personalized to them across all of the channels they choose to buy from.

AI technologies have the ability to track personal style, location, behavior, and other preferences.

They will eventually be able to present customers with items that they love or never even knew they needed -- which will increase the retailer's revenue.

Some companies are leading the way with their innovations for shoppers.

Fashion apps such as Style Seeker work in partnership with shopping malls such as the Oracle. The app uses AI to match clothes to a user's personalized requests. Users can get a personalized stylist to find their favorite outfit without the fuss of searching shops across the mall in person.

The app enables users to take a picture of a friend or family member and will use your location to search your nearest shopping centres for the closest matches available in high street stores.

Macy's on-call shopping assistant enables users to interact with an AI platform, powered by IBM Watson chatbots, which deliver customised responses to customer enquiries.

Other companies such as Stitch Fix are implementing AI and experiencing huge returns for their efforts. Stitch Fix will capture information about your size, style, and price and send you clothing based on your preferences with no shipping fee.

McKinsey says that personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by five to 15 percent, and increase the efficiency of marketing spend by ten to 30 percent.

Personalizing the online experiences for shoppers will, eventually, eliminate the need for brick-and-mortal retail outlets.

AI will be able to offer up tailored content to visitors possibly replacing personal shoppers with tools that does the job automatically with great accuracy based on their actions or behavior on brand websites. But are we on-board with AI innovation?

E-commerce has certainly gained popularity amongst shoppers who often prefer online shopping to the physical in-store experience.

Big data and cognitive computing technology can deliver insights about shopping habits that enables brands to customize the shopping experience for customers.

Savvy retailers already blur the edges of physical and online shopping to provide whatever experience the shopper wants. Smart retail checkouts can offer extra personalized options to encourage extra sales.

AI and natural language processing can be used to understand what the customer is searching for -- like a personal shop assistant would. Companies such as Twiggle can give retailers the same technology as Amazon's search subsidiary A9.

While concerns about how AI will effect jobs are valid, shoppers cannot deny the benefits of the wider use of the blossoming technology to change the way we shop.


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