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Artificial Intelligence and How it is Powering Customer Experience in Retail

Artificial Intelligence and How it is Powering Customer Experience in Retail

Cliff Saran

According to analyst Forrester, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and analytics will increase businesses’ access to data, broaden the types of data that can be analysed, and raise the level of sophistication of the resulting insight. For 2017, Forrester expects investment in AI to triple.

AI will provide business users with access to powerful insights before they are available to them, through the use of cognitive interfaces in complex systems, advanced analytics and machine learning technology,” says Forrester principal analyst James McCormick in the company’s Predictions 2017: artificial intelligence will drive the insights revolution report.

Forrester expects that AI will drive faster business decisions in marketing, e-ommerce, product management and other areas of the business by helping close the gap from insights to action

Customers increasingly want retailers to offer convenient, responsive and personalised services. A recent IBM study revealed 48% of customers believe it is important for retailers to provide on-demand personalised promotions when online, while 45% want the same options in store.

Customers also want to discover and purchase products however, whenever and wherever they want and are assuming ever-greater ownership over their retail journeys.

Today’s customers have almost limitless choices in their discovery and inspiration. They are not constrained by time of day or location when making purchases, IBM’s study reported.

The human brain can consume and process only a limited amount of information while traditional computing is pre-programmed and rigid, unable to learn, reason, relate or interact in natural language, according to IBM.

In IBM’s survey, 91% of retail executives said they believe cognitive computing will play a disruptive role in the industry, and 83% believe it will have a critical impact on the future of their businesses.

In 2016, outdoor clothing retailer North Face began using Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing platform to power a personalised shopping experience for customers on its website.

The retailer used Expert Personal Shopper (XPS), a shopping platform from Fluid, which IBM acquired in November 2016.

XPS runs Watson’s natural language processing to help consumers discover and refine product selections based on their responses to a series of questions.

For example, after a shopper enters details on a desired jacket or outdoor activity, XPS will ask questions about factors such as location, temperature or gender to recommend a suitable jacket.

Another company looking at exploring the possibilities of cognitive computing and AI in retail is luxury fashion retailer Yoox Net-a-Porter Group (YNAP).

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Cliff Saran | Managing Editor | Computer Weekly.com

 

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