Although AI, in some form or another, has been around for over half a century, recent strides in the field which can be used to dramatically enhance customer experiences. AI can demonstrate a range of behaviours which are closely aligned with human intelligence, including planning, learning, problem-solving, compromising, perception and manipulation. It also is able to, to a certain extent, displays social awareness, creativity and empathy.
How can I use AI?
Uses for AI are growing every day, but for brands, it can be utilised to support the buying experience.
From making recommendations to align with previous purchases or items in a basket, implementing virtual assistants to answer queries, visual searches or automated systems to detect types of spam or fraud, AI has a multitude of uses within retail experiences.
AI can be used to undertake more basic requests online, for example, in place of every enquiry through a web chat being transferred to a real person, an AI messenger or chatbots can manage basic requests such as updating a customer on the status of an order, process a refund or provide details on stock replenishment.
More complex requests are achievable through more technically advanced AI, but most are still supported by real human customer service assistants who can take over if a request, enquiry or complaint requires more detailed responses.
These systems can also be used to optimise the visual product search. Sites such as ASOS already use this system, whereby a customer can upload an image to a search function to find similar. The AI scrutinizes and analyses the elements of the item in the picture and then presents them with similar option.
An AI system can support in making your customer experience overall more personal. By utilising historical data, AI can support in generating more relevant sales material and experiences for your customers. Presenting them with products that the AI has determined are suitable based on their previous purchases, saved items and viewing history, alongside current trends.
Virtual fitting rooms are another form of personalised AI system, which can help shoppers with less time find the items they need, pair them with accessories or shoes and either direct them to the location within the store or order them straight to the checkout. Implementing systems which make in-store purchases as simple as those online can improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and happiness.
Customers, both online and in-store, want a quick and easy experience. Long queues for changing rooms and checkouts, or long load times, can result in customers becoming disinterested and heading right to a competitors store or website.
Optimising the online experience through virtual fitting rooms and enhanced size guides (built on a
Equally, making this capability available in-store can alleviate the pressure on fitting rooms and when coupled with self-serve checkouts, customers can streamline their visit and avoid being forced to interact with real people.
The ability to predict and influence buyer behaviour ahead of time can result in higher retention and conversion rates. The capability to leverage behavioural analytics to better reach customers, teamed with personalisation can allow a brand to more effectively make a sale.
This is done through analysing customers emotional responses to past products, sessions and experiences, then using this information to better tailor future sessions through serving relevant offers and incentivise each shopper, to return and make a purchase.
Through the use of behavioural data, brands are better able to understand what their customer wants to see at any given time. This can increase the efficiency of their marketing spend by ensuring each type of customer persona has an optimum approach that aims to improve the conversion rate through unique understanding.
If your AI system notices that your customer purchases a new outfit every Thursday, in preparation for the weekend, you may be able to begin making recommendations based on new products, integrate offers to boost customer loyalty and begin to become a more active part of their weekly or monthly activity.
Future of AI
AI can offer your business a wealth of opportunities, and it doesn’t need to be exceptionally complicated. There are plenty of software options which offer user-friendly approaches to implementing AI systems into your company’s offering. So, regardless of how you want to implement it into your retail business, there’s plenty of opportunity at every touch point to enhance the customer experience through AI.