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Hey Alexa, I Need Paper Towels

…and other ways AI is providing new capabilities in the retail industry.


by; Jo Ann M Stadtmueller, SR, Director of Marketing


Retail AI

AI is here. A rapidly evolving technology that is being looked at by almost every industry to help develop meaningful outcomes. According to reports “In 2015, the global artificial intelligence market was worth US$126.2 bn and is projected to reach a value of US$3,061.35 bn by the end of 2024. The market is estimated to exhibit an exponential 36.10% CAGR between 2016 and 2024.”


Several industries are vetting useful applications of AI SaaS to help accelerate rich outcomes from data that have been stored and/or sourced. Globally, there is a trend toward retail as one of the industries that are quickly adopting AI practices.


The future of your shopping experience is closer than you think….

Years ago we were impressed with the likes of Siri, Alexa and Hey, Google, today communicating with these devices have become a pervasive part of the buying experience. Example, I’m home and cooking I run low on paper towels, without hesitation I say “Alexa, add Downey paper towels to my shopping list. Alexa, purchase Downey paper towels” and just like that through Amazon prime, there on my door step within 24-48 hours. Alexa has stored data on my buying trends and preferences making the purchase easier and faster for me. As a customer of prime, I’m excited that I have one less errand on my to-do list and my time is spent doing more meaningful pursuits, but I have to wonder what happens to all the data that Alexa has gathered on me when I utilize this process?


Retailers are eager to capitalize on the trend of utilizing AI to gain more customers, gain loyalty, increase sales, stream line supply chain, attract new markets and more.

When integrating AI into retail, companies must remain transparent and secure to retain customer loyalty, as customers can become wary of automation and other new technologies, entering an area where it previously didn't exist. Compliance and governance must then be ubiquitously built into a platform to keep customer data secure.


Some interesting ways in which AI is disrupting retail were identified in an IBM report released at the National Retail Federation’s 2019 Big Show.

It identified the following six ways the retail industry plans on utilizing AI, based on survey feedback:

  • Supply chain planning (85%)

  • Demand forecasting (85%)

  • Customer intelligence (79%)

  • Marketing, advertising, and campaign management (75%)

  • Store operations (73%)

  • Pricing and promotion (73%)

Retailers want to increase the shopping experience and provide employees better work experiences, augmented intelligence is providing for both. "From reducing shipping costs and improving supply chain efficiency to personalizing shopping experiences and helping workers acquire new skills, AI technologies allow retailers to compete in the 21st century economy and better serve their customers. This is what the future of retail looks like”, states the IBM report.

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