Developing Deeper Insights on Retail Products
Digital transformation in the retail sector continues to evolve, driven by demands for better customer experience, increased employer productivity and data-driven stock and promotional choices. Retailers are looking at technology solutions to help them answer fundamental questions:
How can I win my customers’ loyalty?
How can I identify my customers’ biggest pain points?
How can I improve employee experiences and productivity during store hours?
How can I adapt if I see that trending products are selling well or not?
How can I track and compare trends in what’s selling or how customers are behaving in other branches?
How can I manage out-of-stock items and collaborate with CPGs?
With advances in AI, computer vision, and machine learning, retailer owners and franchisers can streamline store operations, enhance customer experiences, keep employees engaged, and deliver insights to corporate-level management. This blog outlines how.
Streamline and accelerate store operations
Efficient store operations are key to ensuring retail shops run smoothly on a day-to-day basis, and powerful edge-enabled AI platforms can help enable that streamlined efficiency retailers are looking for. Advanced technologies such as cameras, sensors and servers inside shops bring AI, analytics, and processing closer to where data is being generated.
Being able to run AI and analytics locally rather than sending data to the cloud means that retailers can transform large volumes of raw data into actionable, valuable insights in near real time. And those large volumes of actionable insights can especially come in handy when retailers need to streamline operations upon receiving trending or fashionable inventory that they anticipate will be in high demand.
On the floor, edge-enabled AI platforms can accelerate store operations—particularly for customers. An example of rapid AI usage is intelligent self-checkout stands. Using near-real-time AI and video analytics, intelligent self-checkout stands can identify items and customer actions without even scanning a barcode. This enables faster, more accurate checkouts and it can also help prevent loss from accidental or intentional theft.
Enhanced convenience boosts customer experience
Nearly half of consumers still prefer to shop in store, and up to 83% of shoppers will return if they have a good experience—which is why improving in-store visits is crucial for retailers.1 Luckily, there are a variety of AI systems that can boost customer relationships by creating more-convenient experiences.
With the rise of in-store theft since the pandemic, retailers have since begun locking up items such as soap and cold medicine. However, restricting items can result in a 15% to 25% reduction of sales because some customers would rather leave the store than flag down an employee.2 AI-enabled technology like checkout-free stores and smart shelves can make it so that retailers don’t have to lock up their inventory in the first place. These innovations use weight sensors and computer vision to track inventory in real time, identify each item, and charge customers virtually. When shoppers don’t need to wait for an employee, stand in line, and physically check out in-store, they can save time and avoid frustration, creating a more satisfying overall experience.
Another AI-enabled innovation is digital curbside pickup, which identifies license plate numbers on cars in specific parking spots and then alerts staff members for assistance. This also enables convenience for customers, especially for individuals who are sick or may have difficulties walking around a store. It can even reduce the amount of foot traffic in-store when items go on sale or if customers have large orders that need to be placed ahead of time.3
Keep employees engaged and boost productivity
A study from Microsoft found that while 60% of retail workers are excited about in-store electronics and digital tools, 34% feel like they still don’t have access to the right technology.4 When employees have access to an edge-enabled AI platform through tablets, digital signage, or even their mobile devices, it can make their daily responsibilities easier and less stressful.5 With AI solutions enabling fewer tedious or demanding responsibilities, employees can save time and stay on task during busy store hours.
AI-powered digital shelf labels are great resources that can allow employees to streamline monotonous tasks such as updating price tags, adjusting names to match inventory or display other information. Each employee can use an AI app on a tablet or smart phone to scan a trending product’s barcode, and if there is an update regarding an expiration, a sale or discount, a connected AI platform can create updates to each digital label instantly.
Deliver insights to corporate
For big box stores and retail chains, analyzing customer and sales data is vital for item forecasting and inventory management. With AI-enabled cameras and sensors capturing anonymous, non-sensitive customer data, C-suite retail owners and managers can gain insights into product demand, consumer preferences, successful sales tactics, and other purchase behaviors.
Heat mapping is a prime example of how retailers can use AI for demand forecasting.6 Computer vision and sensors detect which products are picked up, which are returned, and where customers go after leaving the shelf. In addition, when paired with smart shelf technology, retailers can get automated updates on inventory, thus saving them and employees time from having to physically check what is or isn’t in stock and logging that information to be sent to corporate separately.
Apply insightful practices for retail products
When a retail store receives inventory, there is still much more insightful information retail owners and franchisers need to know other than which items sold and how much inventory is left. Specific, comprehensive data, run through edge-enabled AI platforms, can give retailers the insights they need to create a healthy ecosystem within their doors for employees, managers, and customers alike.
No matter what your retail store will sell this year, take control of your business and invest in advanced AI solutions. To learn more about AI in the retail sector, check out our use case guide.
Notes and Disclaimers
- “Brick and Mortar Shoppers Have Spoken: Offer Great In-Store Experiences or Kiss Customers Goodbye,” Forbes, May 16, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2022/05/16/brick-and-mortar-shoppers-have-spoken-offer-great-in-store-experiences-or-kiss-customers-goodbye/?sh=4cddc6621b70.
- “You’re Not Imaging It—Stores Are Locking Everything Up,” Forbes, April 2, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurendebter/2022/04/02/stores-locking-things-up-rising-theft/?sh=16d801ab11ca.
- “The Future of eCommerce and Curbside Pickup Technology,” Auto-Star, October 27, 2021, https://www.auto-star.com/2021/10/27/the-future-of-ecommerce-and-curbside-pickup-technology/.
- “How technology can reduce stress for frontline retail workers,” Microsoft, February 9, 2022, https://news.microsoft.com/apac/2022/02/09/how-technology-can-reduce-stress-for-frontline-retail-workers/.
- “Technology Is Transforming The Frontline Retail Experience,” Forbes, February 22, 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/02/22/technology-is-transforming-the-frontline-retail-experience/?sh=1c3686924d2a.
- “Artificial Intelligence in Retail,” Intel, accessed on October 11, 2022, https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/retail/solutions/ai-in-retail.html.
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