There’s more to intelligent retail than fridges that know when you’ve run out of milk

Technology has been changing the way we shop for years, to the extent that going to a physical store almost seems like a quaint indulgence these days making intelligent retail a common trait of shopping.

And it goes beyond mere online retail and a fridge that can buy you milk when you run out – that’s just so 2000s. These days, virtual reality headsets enable us to buy cars without ever stepping into the driver’s seat, and Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home let you do your home shopping by talking to a virtual assistant without leaving the comfort of your armchair.

Refining the simple act of ordering goods and services using different devices is just the beginning. Retailers are also using it to improve the customer experience. Apps are being designed which can measure customer behaviour through loyalty programmes, with data analytics being used to give customers a more personal service.

Retailers know what your favourite brands are, the food and drinks you prefer and the styles of clothes you like to wear – and they can target you with discounts or special offers to entice you to buy more of them.

Technology is even being used to answer customer queries. If you’ve ever used webchat to talk to a retailer, it’s more than likely it is being answered by an artificial intelligence (AI) system than a genuine customer service agent.

Through machine learning, AI is able to accurately predict the right answers to customer questions. It has become so sophisticated you can even order pizzas online through a chatbot, or buy insurance. AI is even making strides in learning how to handle customer complaints.

Technology has already disrupted the retail market, but there is a long way to go, and it’s certainly an area retailers are prioritising when it comes to investment. We may not be at a stage yet where everyone is sitting in their living rooms doing their shopping in VR headsets, or talking to their home automated devices to stock their cupboards up, but the way things are heading, it’s not far off…

This article was published in our Business Reporter Online: Future of Retail.

Read the full issue online now!


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