In today’s market expectations are growing and the stakes are high, with one mistake potentially costing a retailer their reputation. Due to this level of risk, brands find reducing their hands on approach to processes difficult, but what they don’t realise is that technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could prove to be their hero, not their villain. Entrusting their data and brand values to such technologies may seem like a scary step, but as David Griffiths, Senior Product Marketing & Strategy Manager, Adjuno, discusses, it’s one that will free up retail teams to add value and cut costs.
In AI should we trust?
There are a great deal of obstacles to overcome when it comes to the stigma attached to AI. A key challenge facing the progression of this technology is that individuals simply do not trust it. The fear of the unknown is one concern that pops up most commonly, with people battling a perceived perception that those who use this technology will lack control.
But a new age of retail is approaching and there is now an even greater need for brands to define their processes in order to keep up. Consumers want to receive products that are of a high-quality and they want to receive them now. These expectations are taking us beyond the traditional methods of retailing and leading us into a world immersed in technology, a world that benefits from the helping hand of AI.
Informing key decisions
With AI, retailers will be able to gain valuable insights in warehouse management, logistics and supply chain management, and make more informed and proactive decisions. This technology makes it easier to analyse huge volumes of data in an efficient fashion, helping to detect patterns and providing an endless loop of forecasting. Using this knowledge to identify factors and issues impacting the performance of the supply chain, such as weather events, retailers will be able to take a forward-thinking approach to decision-making. An approach that will lead to reduced costs and delays.
By extending human efficiency in terms of reach, quality and speed, this technology can also help to eliminate the more mundane and routine work that’s faced by employees across the retail spectrum. From tackling flow management by assessing key products to ensuring there is enough stock available to improving production planning, a more informed use of time will help equip brands to face every consumer request and demand.
This is particularly important for those brands whose product line extends further than apparel wear, and steps into the realm of hardware. With diversity comes a need for more proof points and in turn, an extended volume of data. Retailers will be battling to work across an even greater number of suppliers and distribution centres, and accommodating the expectations of a larger customer base. Considering this, it is fundamental that every last bit of data is refined and utilised to streamline processes. AI is providing retailers with a platform to do this, offering the potential for significant changes across the entire product journey.
A data conundrum
The benefits of using AI to consolidate data are endless. Traditionally, teams have relied on spreadsheets to collate information, hindering their ability to forward plan. With AI this is no longer the case, a much more accurate picture of the hero products, sizes and colours likely to sell, can be achieved by looking at multiple scenarios in real time and pulling them together.
This doesn’t mean that AI will replace creative buying teams. AI doesn’t forecast trends, it can’t predict what consumers will be buying in 2020, it can only report on the product lines. It can however help buying teams assess partners, analyse stock patterns, track costs, enable capacity planning and help optimise shipments. This data is invaluable to teams, especially for any new buyers who may need extra guidance.
AI is set to transform the retail scene as we know it. But in order to make implementation a success, there shouldn’t just be a focus on the evolution of data management, there must be an evolution of mindsets too. After all, if a retailer fails to jump on board with AI and embrace a new era of change, then their customers will be the ones who suffer.