The future of the retail industry will be shaped by a series of disruptive themes, with artificial intelligence (AI) being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on retail businesses.
AI refers to software-based systems that use data inputs to make decisions on their own and includes an array of technologies and subsets. As e-commerce sales have surged following the Covid-19 outbreak, retailers are facing growing pressure to bring customers back to their physical stores. More than ever, customers are now prioritizing experiences over products. Retailers have implemented AI to improve customer experience and improve operational efficiency.
Consumers who were previously reluctant to buy online have embraced e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid the shift to e-commerce, several retailers have embraced AI-integrated personalization as part of their customer retention strategy. Retailers often use personalization of marketing communications as a recovery strategy to avoid lost sales due to cart abandonment, as it can help build traction and increase customer loyalty.
However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.
According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, AI in Retail & Apparel, the top users are: Edited, Intelistyle, Modiface (L’Oreal), Quidini, Apple, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Kroger, Zara, Alibaba, Amazon, and IBM.
Top-ranked company insights
Kroger has partnered with Ocado to provide it with automated warehouses. In total, Kroger has announced plans for 10 Ocado Customer Order Fulfillment Centers (CFCs). Kroger has also embraced AI to reduce its self-checkout errors and rolled out Everseen’s Visual AI technology to 2,500 stores..
Lowe’s has been using smart robots in-store since 2016. The retailer partnered with Fellow Robots to design the LoweBot, which can answer basic text-entered questions from employees or customers. Customers can ask the LoweBot for the location of a product, and the device will accompany customers to the correct part of the store. The LoweBot also monitors inventory and provides store stock information.
Amazon offers a host of AI and ML services through AWS. These include pre-trained AI services for image and video analysis (Rekognition), conversational agents (LEX) and text-to-speech applications (Polly). The SageMaker Cloud ML platform was launched in late 2017. Amazon’s best-known AI product is Alexa, its virtual assistant. As part of its Echo line of devices, Alexa has given Amazon an early lead in the nascent smart speaker market. Amazon orchestrates the world’s largest fleet of mobile robots in its warehouses and has invested heavily in AI-related M&A activity, acquiring Canvas, a warehouse robotics company, in 2019, and Zoox, a leading autonomous vehicle start-ups, in mid-2020.
To better understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest topical research report on AI in Retail and Apparel.
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