AI has long been used as a tool to enhance and extend the in-store experience. But in the age of COVID, retailers have to find ways to keep store visits as short as possible, and in some cases eliminate them altogether. Fortunately, AI can help here, too. As retailers become more dependent on apps and websites, AI algorithms can help make products more discoverable, recommendations more relevant, online shopping more streamlined, and digital experiences more engaging.

Jake Moskowitz and his guests discuss the impact that AI has on retail, and what determines the winners and losers in terms of leveraging AI in retail environments.

The first step is understanding what AI is — and what it’s not. Jason Goldberg, Chief Commerce Strategy Officer at Publicis, explains that AI is not an outcome, it’s a tactic. He helps his clients see the difference, prioritize the outcome they want, then decide if AI is the right tactic to help them achieve it.

Guru Hariharan, CEO and founder of CommerceIQ, breaks down how AI is changing the world of retail, and the ways that it democratizes and creates efficiencies in the way we shop.

Listen as Jake and his guests cover the five steps to bringing AI tactics to retail and explore how AI is changing the customer experience, how data — what you get and the permissions you have to use it — is the most valuable piece of the puzzle, and how AI is changing the way we think about who we hire and how fast we really need to work.

The Five List

Here are five steps to incorporating AI in retail.

  • Start with great data
  • Operationalize your data
  • Enable Agility (People and Processes)
  • Incorporate AI as Analytics 2.0
  • Automate

The Five podcast is presented by Ericsson Emodo and the Emodo Institute, and features original music by Dyaphonic and the Small Town Symphonette. Social media and promotional content was composed and conducted by Lyon Solntsev. This episode was edited by Justin Newton and produced by Robert Haskitt, Liz Wynnemer, and Jake Moskowitz.


Transcript of AI E4: Putting the AI in Retail

Jason:

When a client comes to me and says, Hey, I want to kick off an AI initiative. That’s kind of like saying, I want to kick off a green paint initiative. Right?

Jake:

Let’s talk AI. Welcome to FIVE, the podcast that breaks down AI for marketers. This is episode four, “Putting the AI in Retail.” I’m Jake Moskowitz.

The retail sector is going through a massive amount of turmoil and transformation. It’s no secret, brick and mortar retail in many categories has faced an incredible amount of change and uncertainty over the last several years. In its various applications, Artificial Intelligence has the potential to revive the real world shopping experience and take it to a compelling next level of personalization, automation and efficiency. Algorithms help shoppers navigate the store and find new or specific items. AI helps retailers learn customer preferences, measure customer reactions, transform the dressing room experience and eliminate the weight of the register just to name a few.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, AI helps retailers predict demand, respond to demand changes by getting the supply chain to react and quickly restocking locally as shelves empty. But chances are some of those experiences and plans have been put on layaway indefinitely.

The events of 2020 have seen to that. Think about it, instead of drawing consumers into the store, instead of trying to keep them there, many brick and mortar retailers have had to devise ways to keep customers out of the store or if they enter, encourage them to not stick around.

Ordering online or picking up in the store isn’t a new idea. Neither is curbside pickup, but they’re certainly not the core models most retailers would have pursued under normal circumstances. For retailers, those forced moves have driven greater need, usage and dependency on their apps and websites. And that makes physical retail look a lot more like its digital counterpart. These are monumental shifts for retailers and they affect brands too like the CPG brands, the clothing brands, food and beverage and electronics brands, the products people buy in those stores.

In physical stores, brand marketers had it figured out, gaining attention through shelf position, promotional displays, Co Op deals, end caps, coupon programs. You know, the old school tried and true been around forever stuff.

AI algorithms are helping brands regain some of the advantages they’ve lost as consumers do more and more of their ordering and shopping digitally. In E-commerce, AI can help products become more discoverable, recommendations more relevant, online shopping more streamlined, and digital experiences more engaging. In fact, AI is often used to help make e-commerce environments feel more like their physical counterpart.

2020 may go down in history as the year the world changed so many things in so many ways and never changed back. Retail is likely one of those things. There will always be advantages to real world interactive experiences. But the increased blending of physical and digital is a change that’s likely to stick.