The Future Is Personalised, the Future Is Automated

Artificial Intelligence is set to change the way we work, interact and, importantly, shop. Here, Simon Farthing, director, global strategy and insights, Monetate, tells RetailTechNews how, in retail, new technologies such as chat bots, virtual assistants and beacons all have the potential to attract customers, enhance the shopping experience and, ultimately, boost loyalty.

As retailers continue to embrace the opportunities of AI, customers will be looking to receive even better, more personalised, experiences based on real-time data. In fact, recent research shows that 69% of people now want an individualised experience, with a further two-thirds expecting tailored services and products.

Data paralysis

However, while they may be open to the benefits AI can bring, many retailers don’t believe that they have enough, or the right sort, of data to do the job well. As a result, many retailers do not offer personalisation and those that do use a rules-based decision model.

This involves creating multiple tests, across various segments, manually. A human oversees the process, analyses the results and then makes changes to the rules to make improvements. In many cases, this leaves the retailer feeling paralysed by data, overwhelmed and unsure of the right course of action to provide the best experience.

Insightful experiences

But, through AI, retailers can use just a couple of simple data sources from purchase history to location, or recently view products – or even the type of device being used – to create much more individualised experiences. When artificial intelligence is added, the initial rules will still need to be set up by someone, but will then act alone, gathering indispensable insights into customer behaviour and shopping patterns.

Not only does AI save time for retailers – thanks to the technology being self-functioning – but it also means that customers get hyper-personalised experiences, based on real-time data. The AI technology will also be able to switch an experience immediately; ensuring shoppers are seeing products and web pages that are relevant to them in that moment, on that device, and in that particular location. As AI continues to make its mark on the industry, we’ll see a strong shift away from ‘big data’, and towards ‘fast data’, executing the experiences customers want, exactly when they want them.

The majority of retailers may not know it, but they are already collecting enough data to personalise online, they just need to learn how to use it. With so much data available to retailers today, it can be extremely daunting to not only process the mass of information, but to then make sense of how to create experiences from it. This is where AI can lend a helping hand, assisting retailers in making sense of large data quantities and finding those points of information that will drive what everyone is looking for – successful personalisation.

While AI might not be the solution to the entire picture, it’s certainly an important piece of the puzzle, and not one to be shunned or put on the back burner out of fear. Retailers that fail to adopt artificial intelligence technologies may end up behind the curve, failing to understand what customers really want and how to offer it to them.