Retailers are getting smarter about artificial intelligence (AI), and the latest example of that innovative effort comes from Walmart.
According to a new report, the retail chain, hoping to reduce checkout theft, is turning to cameras powered by AI, with deployments underway in some 1,000 stores. “The retailer began investing in the surveillance program, dubbed Missed Scan Detection, several years ago in an effort to combat shrinkage — loss due to several causes including theft, scanning errors, waste and fraud,” the report stated. “The AI-powered cameras were rolled out to more than 1,000 stores about two years ago and the retail giant has seen positive results since then, according to Jenkins, who said shrinkage has reduced in stores where the cameras have been added.”
Artificial intelligence is moving from theory to reality, and that holds true for the world of retail as well.
By incorporating visual recognition technology and artificial intelligence into their business models, retailers such Neiman Marcus, IKEA, H&M, west elm and more are leveraging mobile devices and AI to provide advanced customer services. Those services include visual searches, hyper-personalization and seamless omnichannel functionality — all to weave together online and brick-and-mortar to enhance the consumer experience.
In the wake of this “deep-learning” revolution in the retail industry, merchants are gathering and analyzing their customers’ online activities, purchasing histories and other data points to hyper-customize their customer service features across digital and brick-and-mortar channels.
Payments are also playing a role in retail AI efforts and goals. From 7-Eleven to H&M, retailers are adopting digital payments and artificial intelligence technology to bring more convenient experiences to customers. These are just some of the ways merchants are evolving to meet the commerce and payments needs of the modern-day connected consumer.
In fact, PYMNTS research has found that the share of customer interactions projected to be handled by AI in 2023 is 80 percent.
Take Adidas as another example of that trend. The company teamed up with AI platform provider Findmine for product recommendations. By using AI technology, the sportswear brand was able to offer suggestions to online shoppers. In the past, Adidas merchants would have to manually put together outfits for the “Complete the Look” feature, which could take 20 minutes — and 27 steps — to finish. With the rollout of the new feature, however, Adidas has seen a 95 percent decrease in the time merchandisers spend on the process. At the same time, the company has noted that the number of items featured in the outfits spiked by 960 percent.
Walmart also has said it wants to us AI to enable workers to fix problems and restock items efficiently. The technology will detect when shopping carts run low, when spills occur and when shelves have to be restocked. In one specific example, the cameras can even determine the ripeness of bananas. Workers can be notified by a phone alert when items need replaced.
As PYMNTS research has documented, artificial intelligence and machine learning are blurring the divide between online and in-store shopping, and — ironically enough — bringing an all-new human element into retail. This is happening at a time when retailers are working to create lucrative consumer experiences to stand out from their competitors and to gain increased loyalty from consumers, especially younger ones such as millennials.
The AI revolution is slowly unfolding, and retail will play a big part in that.