AI/BOT: Is AI The Key To Retail’s Survival?

PYMNTS – Over the course of the last few years, eCommerce has sprung up and put the brick-and-mortar side of the retail industry on notice.

A growing number of eCommerce-focused merchants like Amazon have gradually increased their footprint in the physical store space. With the opening of the Amazon Go grocery store and bookstore in Seattle, Amazon is breathing innovation into the stodgy brick-and-mortar experience.

It is also changing the retail game by eliminating the need for checkout stations through its artificial intelligence (AI) infused checkout system in its Amazon Go grocery store. In combination with its recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, it may be safe to assume that merchants in the retail space will follow Amazon’s integration of more technology into the in-store experience.

Forty-five percent of retailers are planning to use AI in the next few years, according to the latest research from Boston Retail Partners. This AI integration will be done through the use of chatbots or digital assistants and primarily used for customer enhancement services.

As eCommerce continues to benefit consumers and retailers, technology like AI will likely only help to serve the needs of both. Consumers will experience a more seamless and personalized shopping experience while retailers will gain more data on how to attract, retain and maintain consumers. Boston Retail Partners’ research found top customer experience priorities for retailers to include:

  • Optimizing the customer experience — 55 percent
  • Increasing customer loyalty — 50 percent
  • Improving mobile shopping experience — 45 percent
  • Creating a seamless experience across channels — 42 percent
  • Enhancing personalized service/sales assistance — 32 percent
  • Providing personalized promotions, recommendations and/or offerings — 24 percent

The future of retail will likely involve a mixture of real-world experiences and technology. Boston Retail Partners’ research summarizes this outlook:

“Stores must now encompass both worlds — the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate — whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics — married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look into the future.”

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