Introduction: It’s no secret that retail is in a state of flux. The rise of e-commerce, along with other forces like the gig economy and changing consumer habits, has put immense pressure on brick-and-mortar businesses. In response, retailers have been turning to technology for solutions. Here’s a look at how automation and artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to revolutionize the shopping experience—and what the future of retail might look like as a result.
One way that retailers are using technology to improve the shopping experience is by automating various in-store tasks. For example, shelf-scanning robots can be used to scan shelves for out-of-stock items or pricing errors and then send alerts to store employees so that they can take care of the issue right away. This not only helps ensure that customers can always find what they’re looking for but also frees up employees to provide better customer service. Other examples of in-store automation include self-checkout lanes and automated kiosks for ordering food or picking up online orders.
AI-powered Customer Service
Another area where retailers are using AI to improve the shopping experience is customer service. Virtual customer assistants powered by AI can handle a wide range of tasks, from providing product recommendations to answering common questions about returns or shipping. In some cases, these virtual assistants are even able to resolve customer service issues on their own. For example, if a customer is having trouble finding an item in the store, the AI assistant may be able to pull up a map of the store layout and guide them to the item’s location. Or, if a customer is trying to return an item they bought online, the AI assistant may be able to process the return without involving a store employee.
In addition to virtual customer assistants, retailers are also using AI-powered chatbots on their websites and social media channels. These chatbots can answer common questions 24/7, which helps improve the overall customer experience.
The future retail store
As retail continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovations in automation and AI—all aimed at improving the shopping experience for consumers. So far, these technologies have proven themselves helpful in streamlining various in-store tasks and providing faster, more accurate customer service. Going forward, we can expect retailers to continue investing in these technologies to stay ahead of the curve.