Last year, the global AI in the retail market was valued at $1.80 billion but this is expected to increase almost ten-fold over the next five years and reach $10.98 billion. Retailers are rapidly implementing AI solutions to automate processes and improve the customer experience. In addition, AI offers companies significant cost savings. In fact, retailers who incorporate AI across the entire value chain can save as much as $340 Billion. Since AI in retail is making such a huge impact, let’s take a look at some AI implementation trends in the industry.
Automating the Cashier
In 2018, Amazon made a huge splash by opening its Amazon Go store which uses facial recognition technology to replace human cashiers. In addition, weight sensors are used to determine when the customer removes an item from the shelves and it is then automatically added to the person’s virtual shopping cart. Other companies followed suit in terms of eliminating human interaction during the shopping process. Stores like Zara and Mango are offering customers to pay via their mobile app. All the customer has to do is pick out the clothes when they come into the store and pay for them through the app without even stopping off at a check out kiosk.
This is a very popular trend and it will keep growing in the future. In December of last year, 47% of adults in the US regularly used the self-checkout feature. Since this is a win-win for both stores and consumers, automation in stores will get more widespread as time goes on.
Using Robotics to Alleviate Labor Woes
Every year, it gets harder and harder for stores to find workers who perform their duties in accordance with corporate standards but for less than average pay. This problem will be even worse this year after the Coronavirus pandemic even though a lot of companies have increased hourly wages and added benefits. Walmart, in particular, is ramping up the use of robots by bringing them to an additional 650 stores this year. Robots are used for a wide variety of purposes such as stocking shelves, sorting items from trucks, and even cleaning the floors.
Also, Walmart plans to use robots to deliver groceries to its customers. The new Alphabot can pick, sort, and pack groceries ten times faster than a human. This could resolve the labor shortage from both the recruitment and financial perspective as well. Conversely, such a pace of automation could have an adverse effect on the job market since 36 million jobs in the US are at risk of being automated.
Automation Behind the Scenes
So far we looked at some of the customer-facing jobs that have become automated, but the same holds true for back-office positions as well. This includes things like inventory management where the system can purchase new inventory automatically while adjusting for product demand, alert employees about low stock items, and many other tasks. The same holds true for accounting where activities such as billing, payment processing, account payable/receivable, and a lot of other jobs are automated as well. The computers are simply more efficient, accurate, and ultimately cheaper than human workers which is why we are seeing such a dramatic shift towards automation.
AI in Retail is Supporting Business Growth
Thanks to all of the new developments in technology, sacking your business no longer requires making huge investments in human capital. All of the automation will allow stores with a small team of employees to be as productive as those with much larger workforces and enable them to make smarter and more confident decisions. This way customers will enjoy more of a convenient and personalized experience which is very important in today’s marketplace.
Mindy Support is committed to helping companies develop new AI-powered technologies that help reduce costs and improve customer experience. The solutions mentioned above are powered by technologies such as facial recognition and computer vision which require a significant amount of data annotation to work properly. We can assemble even the most sizeable team within a short time period with the ability to scale up or down as needed. Last year, we annotated 63 million pictures which is a testament to the hard of our team members as well as the close collaboration of our HR and operations departments. Contact us today to start making your project a reality.
Posted by Il’ya Dudkin