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Ensuring the success of Artificial Intelligence in retail

Ensuring the success of Artificial Intelligence in retail

AnalysisRetailThought LeadershipTop Stories

Forward-thinking retailers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ensure they’re sitting at the top of the tree in an often turbulent and unpredictable sector. And as Mylo Portas, Head of Retail, Peak, tells us, those who are taking the market by storm are using the technology to find new ways of driving sales and improving the experience of their increasingly expectant customers.

AI can give retailers end-to-end visibility of their whole business, increasing sales and conversions, improving the lifetime value of customers and improving efficiencies across the entire business – not just in siloed departments. In fact, it’s predicted that 325,000 retailers will be using Machine Learning in some form by 2023 – the benefits of AI to retailers are undeniable, so why isn’t everyone in retail taking advantage of it?

The truth is that many retailers haven’t quite figured out how to execute their AI strategy yet or are still undecided on the first steps they need to take to introduce AI successfully. The clock is ticking, however and they need to move now before they miss out on the advantages of being an early AI adopter. But, by following just a few key steps, retailers can adopt AI technologies with ease, to increase profit margins and optimise business performance:

Plan ahead

Avoid diving head-first into the AI journey. It’s important to first outline goals for achievement and plan to take small, but steady, steps to reach that destination. The pace of the technology’s advancement means that what might be a ‘oh, that’s a cool idea’ today will be a commercial reality by tomorrow. It’s good to consider short-term achievements, but crucial to also understand how this will roll into a game-changing, market-leading piece of kit in the near future. Put the right structures in place to accommodate this scale from the beginning – such as team training, upskilling, and change management processes.

Connect the dots

In order to create a significant, total AI opportunity, businesses should consider how AI is implemented into all business areas and functions. Businesses are made up of multiple connected parts, so it’s important to understand and acknowledge how AI can be used across the entire enterprise; not only in terms of top-line growth, but also in terms of establishing new, positive links between teams and different business areas. This will drive a real, positive change across the business.

Focus on tangible outcomes

Once a business has undertaken the necessary research and development to understand what their AI strategy entails, the next step is to actually implement that strategy framework. It’s important to remember that introducing AI isn’t like getting a new CRM or ERP system, or even a shiny new data warehouse. It needs to be deployed with the intention of delivering real business change.

The aim is to ensure that the benefits of AI can be attributed to the business in an effective and transparent way. To achieve this, it’s important to brainstorm and rank ideas based on the value that they offer and how difficult they are to deploy successfully.  

Utilise data from all areas of business

Businesses gather data all the time, and the more AI solutions have to work with, the better the results. No matter the business system or where it’s stored, retailers have masses of customer, transactional and supply chain data at their disposal. In order to get the most out of this data, it’s important to engage and empower people within all teams, to get everyone on board with your plans for becoming an AI-driven business. This even includes some teams that aren’t initially considered as being potential AI beneficiaries. Simply put, aim to collect as much data as possible – and there’s no need to worry if it’s a little messy; AI can handle it.

When it comes to successfully implementing AI in retail, businesses should ensure that they plan ahead, focus on tangible outcomes and consider the value of AI across the entire business. Ultimately, data is the building block to a successful AI strategy, and there’s masses of data out there just waiting to be used.

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