AI in retail, what’s next?

19/06/2024 20mins
Venkat Ramakrishnan


When we talk about artificial intelligence, most people think that it is the stuff that is seen in the science fiction movies. However, science fiction movies also have a lot of reality involved. This is because they simply happen to be a speculation of the possibilities after all.

It turns out that science fiction movies may be very right about artificial intelligence. This is because today, machines are seemingly getting smarter and smarter. This could mean big implications.

Artificial intelligence simply refers to machines that are capable of thinking the way humans do, often surpassing the human capabilities in terms of computations and skill. These machines are also capable of learning from the past experiences, processing big chunks of data simultaneously in order to solve complex problems with great ease and to respond to language, while also being able to make logical decisions/predictions.

In the recent I/O 18 conference by Google, we were given a demonstration regarding the Google Assistant which was extremely mind-bending. The conversation looked like being made with a human, while it was automated via an artificial intelligence system.

As far as the use of artificial intelligence in retail is concerned, we see the best of it in the form of self-learning algorithms. Usually, there exists one purpose of an algorithm. For instance, one algorithm may have been written to recommend the right products for a customer. In order to do so, processing a lot of data may be a requirement. Then, the algorithm will learn from the responses and the outcomes in order to further improve itself for a satisfying experience the second time. This continues in a chain, and the algorithm improves itself up to unexpected limits.

The most popular retail application of artificial intelligence is personalization. Now when it comes to personalization, there would be no human employee who would have all the data regarding a customer. While humans may be able to figure out what a person bought in the stores. But he may not necessarily be able to figure out what the person looked for on the internet, what type of posts they liked on the social media, and what brand are they most interested in. Even if a human being manages to attain all such information regarding a customer, it is not possible for him/her to put the information together in order to come to a satisfying conclusion.

However, it is possible for an artificial intelligence system to develop an outcome based on such a big amount of data. This is because artificial intelligence systems are capable of carrying out several simultaneous computations at a very fast rate.

Similarly, making predictions in retail is yet another application of artificial intelligence that is being developed. This will be most strongly felt in the area of supply chain. By learning the habits of shoppers and the sales, it is possible for algorithms to learn and to predict the future shopping habits of customers in general.

Considering all the above-mentioned examples, it is obvious that the future of artificial intelligence is quite bright in retail.


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